Alwin Wee Giat Tan (1133108)
Music 162 BB – Term Paper Draft
The Voice of Michael Jackson: Shattering the Dichotomies of Race
“I'm a Black American. I'm proud of my race. I'm proud of who I am. I have a lot of pride and dignity” – King of Pop (YouTube 2014).
The late Michael Joseph Jackson was a 20th-century African-American singer and songwriter who transformed the face of pop music and popular culture throughout his lifetime (Michael Joseph Jackson ). Debuted in the professional music world in 1968 at the age of 10 as a member of The Jackson 5, Jackson’s rise to fame had been largely influenced by his invaluable contributions to the music, dance and fashion industries (Michael Joseph Jackson). Hailed as the ‘King of Pop’, his solo album “Thriller” remains “the best-selling album of all time”, with global sales of “over 51 million copies to date since 1982” (Guinness World Records ). Michael Jackson’s one-of-a-kind songs have also earned him over 700 awards, including 13 Grammy Awards as well as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (Michael Jackson; Grammy). However, his music recognition goes beyond what his cupboard-full of awards could ever represent. In this paper, I propose that Michael Jackson’s songs have touched and changed many lives through his constant fight for racial fairness. In particular, I argue that Michael Jackson used his music career as an outlet to break down racial barriers in the American music industry, to express his disappointment towards racial discrimination, to demonstrate his support for racial equality, to advocate that the color of our skin does not differ us from one another, as well as to show and guide others that change has to begin within oneself before impacting the world . Although certain parties would point out that Jackson used derogatory racial slurs in some of his songs, I will dispute that Jackson learnt learned from his mistakes and continued his fight for racial harmony.
I will first start off with a brief discussion on how Michael Jackson’s childhood shaped his music career as an adult. Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana to a working-class family of nine (Michael Joseph Jackson). He was first exposed to singing by his father as a five year-old when he was brought in as the lead vocalist of the family band, the Jackson 5 (Michael Joseph Jackson). Jackson 5, who was regarded as “young, fresh and full of energy”, quickly caught the eyes of Detroit’s Motown Records (The Jackson 5 Biography). The Jacksons’ talents were so recognized to the extent that the Billboard magazine once noted that “the five young brothers were the symbol of a new era at Motown” (The Jackson 5 Biography). Despite gaining the recognition they deserved, the Jackson 5 was still not widely accepted by everyone. This was a consequence of the discrimination towards African-American music that still prevailed during the Jackson 5’s prime time. For instance, African-American songs...