Capturing the magic of Michael Jackson live: An interview with CJ

Jackson Live In Concert
Jackson Live In Concert

It may be ten years since Michael Jackson passed away but his music lives on in a spectacular UK tour that heads to Horsham and Brighton this year.

Jackson Live in Concert, presented by Sweeney Entertainments, is at The Capitol Theatre, Horsham, on March 30 (£23.50, 01403 750220) and Theatre Royal Brighton on July 20 (0844 871 7650).

Jackson Live In Concert

Jackson Live In Concert

The production features the stunning tribute performer CJ.

Together with his live band and dazzling dance team, the 33-year-old singer from Cheshire promises the next-best-thing to the King of Pop...with completely live vocals.

CJ knows it’s a huge responsibility but he’s had decades to work on his skills to the point where the MJ act is simply second nature.

“I’ve been imitating Michael Jackson since I was four years old,” he explains. “The more I’ve done it the more it just comes naturally to me really. I don’t have to get myself into any mindset.”

Jackson Live In Concert

Jackson Live In Concert

Any pre-show nervousness CJ once felt is long gone, he says, and it’s been replaced with a sense of excitement.

“I just really, really enjoy it,” CJ explains. “It’s spreading the love of Michael Jackson really and the music he gave to the world.

“I mean music wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for Michael Jackson,” he continues. “And when people come out in the hundreds and hundreds to celebrate him it’s just a great experience, just a great buzz onstage.”

“The most fun part of the show for me is when we do a big Jackson 5 medley,” CJ adds. “And my favourite part for a solo bit is ‘Billie Jean’, because it’s got a great dance break in there and you can really show the audience what you can do.”

In short, this tour is an absolute joy for CJ, but that’s not to say that it’s easy.

There are plenty of difficulties to overcome and there’s one goal CJ strives for each time.

“The biggest challenge for me is to impress the hundreds of Michael Jackson fans that come to see the show,” he says. “You’ve got to deliver to their expectations.

“It’s very difficult to sing 100 percent live, and to dance to even a similar sort of standard as Michael, so fans are expecting the next best thing.”

But, rest assured, CJ’s got seven years of professional experience under his belt, as well as the aforementioned amateur training he’s had since his childhood.

“I was about four years old when I started really getting into Michael Jackson. My Dad put a film on the TV, I think it was round about Christmas time, and it was the Moonwalker film.”

“Ever since I saw that I was just glued to the TV,” he continues. “Since the age of four I’ve been trying to imitate him. The dancing started first, the vocals came later on, and I’ve just been practising and it’s been a massive part of my life.”

There was never one moment when CJ thought ‘I can now perform like Michael Jackson!’, just a long, continuous process of watching concerts and videos and learning the techniques.

So what does CJ think is the reason for Michael’s enduring appeal – not just for him but for the millions of fans around the world?

“There are a lot of reasons,” he states.

“But one of the main ones is that the music he created was way beyond the time he was living in. It was timeless.

“It was like he made music to just carry on into the future,” CJ explains. “If you listen to a song now it’s like it’s made in this day and age. You wouldn’t think it was 30 years ago. That’s the sort of talent that he had.”

“And also, the kind of music he made was all for peace and love and things like that, you know? A lot of people agree with what Michael Jackson was trying to get across.”

See all the tour dates for Jackson Live in Concert at sweeneyentertainments.co.uk.

World-class jazz and blues at Christ’s Hospital, Horsham . Click here to find out more.