Stevie Wonder pays tribute to Michael Jackson

Posted on July 6th, 2009 by .

Montreal, June 30, 2009.

12:45pm The phone rings.

-Hi, Tamy?
-It’s Elise from the Montreal Jazz Festival. It’s confirmed, Stevie Wonder will be giving a press conference at 1:00pm at LA MAISON DU FESTIVAL.

Thankfully, I’m not the type that sits at home waiting for the phone to ring for a confirmation…I’m already there.

1:00pm Trying to squeeze my way through the crowd of journalists that made it in time. I absolutely need to sit front row for this one…

1:25pm STEVIE WONDER ENTERS THE ROOM. For some unknown reason, I feel tears welling up. A powerful and very emotional energy is overwhelming me with an indescribable sense of greatness. I’m in the presence of a legend.

1:27pm Trying to tweet, write, audio record, take pictures and FILM. My fingers are shaking from too much emotion. Suddenly, typing on my Blackberry seems like a very challenging task. I put it away. Twitter will have to wait. I need to feel every second of this privileged moment.

1:30pm STEVIE WONDER RECEIVES THE JAZZ FESTIVAL SPIRIT AWARD. As he runs his hands on the statue, an auto-portrait of Miles Davis playing the trumpet, Stevie highlights the beautiful contribution of Miles Davis to the world of jazz music. He then tackles the subject that every journalist wanted to talk about: The death of Michael Jackson.

“As you know, this is a very emotional time for me. As you can imagine, someone very, very special to the world, to his family and to his friends has been lost: Michael Jackson.

“I’ve been very quiet about this because I’ve been watching television and various spin doctors talk bout this and talk about that…I just want to say to the fans all over the world, please, don’t get confused with what’s the most important thing.

“The most important thing is the music, the legacy that’s left behind for us to celebrate, the songs that we have sang and danced to, celebrated and cried to. Don’t get hung in the negativity of what is being said.

“At the end of the day, none of those things can bring him back alive. That will never happen. What can keep him alive is us celebrating his music and his legacy, as we are celebrating the day and the legacy of this great man that is Miles Davis […] Everything else is just a waste of time and a waste of energy.

“That’s why I’m truly honoured to have received this award today and I have so much respect for Montreal and this country, lifting up the spirit of music, that’s so important. I just hope that others around the world take your lead.”

That same night, more than 150,000 people grooved to the music of Stevie Wonder in a free outdoor show that kicked off the 30th edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival. We loved, we danced, we sang, and we celebrated the life of Michael Jackson with the man who evolved right by his side during the Motown years.

When the last note of the piano chimed and the last bang of the fireworks sounded, I just stood there, overjoyed and deeply touched by a man’s great talent and generosity.

This day will stay with me forever. From the bottom of my heart Mr. Stevie…merci.

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