Rebbie Jackson: “Volver a cantar trás la muerte de mi hermano Michael”
Posted by John J. Moser at 01:30:00 AM on April 18, 2010
But for Rebbie, 59, the oldest sibling, it came at a particularly difficult time. After just a handful of concerts and recordings in a decade, Rebbie — best known for her 1984 hit “Centipede” — had recently ventured back into performing. She played a show in Scranton and had others scheduled when Michael died.
(COMO TODOS LOS OCHO HERMANOS Y HERMANAS DE MICHAEL JACKSON, REBBIE JACKSON ESTABA DEVASTADA POR LA MUERTE DEL REY DEL POP EL 25 DE JUNIO 2009.)
(PERO PARA REBBIE, 59, LA HERMANA MAYOR, ESTO ACAECIÓ EN UN MOMENTO PARTICULARMENTE DIFÍCIL.TÁN SÓLO DESPUÉS DE UN PUÑADO DE CONCIERTOS Y ALGUNAS GRABACIONES A LO LARGO DE DIEZ AÑOS, REBBIE – MEJOR CONOCIDA POR SU ÉXITO DE 1984 “CENTIPEDE”- SE HABÍA RECIENTEMENTE AVENTURADO EN ACTUAR EN PÚBLICO. ACTUÓ EN UNA FUNCIÓN EN LA CIUDAD DE SCRANTON Y OTRAS FUNCIONES ESTABAN PROGRAMADAS CUANDO MICHAEL MURIÓ.)
Ten months later, Rebbie (pronounced “Ree-Bee”) will return to the stage — again in Scranton — on Saturday when she headlines “A Nod to Greatness: Motown and More,” a concert also featuring former Temptations lead singer Damon Harris and his tribute band at Lackawanna College’s Mellow Theater.
The concert will be the first by a member of the Jackson family in the United States since Michael’s death.
In a recent telephone call from her Las Vegas home, Rebbie Jackson talked about the upcoming concert, her past, and her iconic late brother. Here is a transcript:
(DIEZ MESES MÁS TARDE, REBBIE (PRONUNCIADO “RI-BI”) RETORNA AL ESCENARIO – DE NUEVO EN SCRANTON- EL SÁBADO CUANDO ENCABEZE “A Nod to Greatness: Motown and More,” UN CONCIERTO EN EL QUE TAMBIÉN ACTUA EL CANTANTE SOLISTA DEL GRUPO Temptations DAMON HARRIS Y SU GRUPO TRIBUTO EN EL TEATRO Mellow DEL INSTITUTO Lackawanna .)
(EL CONCIERTO SERÁ EL PRIMERO QUE DARÁ UN MIEMBRO DE LA FAMILIA EN ESTADOS UNIDOS TRAS LA MUERTE DE MICHAEL.)
(EN UNA RECIENTE CONVERSACIÓN TELEFÓNICA DESDE SU CASA EN LAS VEGAS, REBBIE JACKSON HABLÓ DE SU PRÓXIMO CONCIERTO, DE SU PASADO Y DE SU HERMANO ÍCONICO QUE HA FALLECIDO. AQUI ESTÁ UNA TRANSCRIPCIÓN:)
Lehigh Valley Music: How did it come about that you’re playing a show in Scranton?
Rebbie Jackson: “Well actually, I performed in Scranton over a year ago. I performed at one of the rooms at the college there. And that’s how it came about, actually. In fact, I had about three more shows I may have been doing, And of course, with the passing of my brother, I was not able to honor them. And so we just picked up from there, and I had the opportunity to continue working. But this wasn’t part of that – it was just something that they thought of that would be a great idea, with Damon Harris and his group (The Temptations Tribute) and everything.”
And the concert itself, the promotion of it is that it’s going to be a tribute of sorts.
“Well, I’m not doing a tribute. I’ve made it very clear that my part is not the tribute to my brother. I am not doing a tribute. The Temptations are doing – or I should say Damon Harris – they’re doing a tribute to the Temptations. However, what I’m doing is my show that I normally perform when I’m touring or whenever I’ve done anything in the Vegas area. However, there are songs that I perform of my family, my brothers – and Michael as well. But it’s not a tribute to my brother Michael.” (Continued)
“I appreciate your doing that, too. I really do.”
Some mention has been made that this is the first concert by a member of the Jackson family since Michael’s passing.
“That is not true at all [Laughs] [NOTE: It actually is the first U.S. concert by a member of the Jackson family since Michael’s death.]. Our bother Tito has performed all over in Europe with Gladys Knight, and also by himself. That’s not true at all. In fact, I was very reluctant, prior to now, to performing at all because I did not want to do anything – I personally didn’t. I’ve been offered opportunities to perform and I’ve turned them down. But now I feel comfortable – it’s been a substantial amount of time since that happened and I’m dealing with it and I feel OK right now.
“Of course, in conjunction with the fact that I had performed last year, I definitely want to please these people and especially the fans that came and supported me, because I had definitely made the statement that I would carry through with performing because I had entered that relationship with them prior to my brother’s passing.”
“Not a whole lot at all, but I’ve been doing a few things here and there. But not a whole lot. And I’ve been really just concentration on spending time – I have a grandson, and I’ve been spending time with him, even though he lives in California and I’m here. However, I spend a great amount of time with him. And then I’ve been spending time with the family, as well. And then there’s been other things that I’ve been doing – just getting involved with different projects, working with my family. And especially so recently since the passing of my brother. And I recently traveled to New York with my sister for the premiere and the opening of her movie. And then I also did some things in California recently with one of my brothers. But it was nothing along the lines of performing – projects we’ve been working on, that’s all.”
I saw that you had accompanied Janet to the opening of “Why Did I Get Married Too,” and wondered whether that was your debut back into entertainment after your brother’s passing.
OK. The last formal studio album that you put out was “Yours Faithfully” in 1998. Do you have designs on working on anymore formal releases at this point.
“To be very honest, I haven’t seriously thought about it, but I have to say I’ve been asked a few times, and especially recently about recording with different producers. But I’m not concentrating so much on releasing any product just right now. I’m really not doing that. When the time comes — and I’m very serious about this – when the time comes where I feel comfortable doing it, I will. But I have had a couple of opportunities, and this was prior to my brother passing, too. In fact, when I was in the Bahamas a few years back, my family and I – meaning some of my brothers and my sister – I had talked with a few people who were interested in doing some work with me along those lines. But right now I’m not really that interested in doing anything. I have done a little bit of something with a guy by the name of Preston Glass [a well-known hitmaking producer/songwriter/musician]. I guess it’s been about two years ago. I did some recording with him. But it was on his album [on the song “Save the Stress for Last” on the album “Music as Medicine”]. It was him and Brian Culbertson. He’s a very well-known jazz musician.”
When “Yours Faithfully” came out, that was your first album in 10 years or so. What had you been doing before that?
“Well, I don’t know if you know, but I’m very much involved with my religion – I’m one of Jehovah’s witnesses. And I spend a lot of time with that – a lot. And I’ve done it all through the years, even when I recorded ‘Centipede’ and some of the other projects that I was involved with. I’ve always been committed to that. And so I spend a lot of time, as well.”
And you’ve raised up a family as well.
“Yes, I have a family [Laughs]. They’re grown now, and I spend a lot of time with them. I have a son who’s very much involved in music. In fact, he’s going to be coming out with a product very soon. He worked with [Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer] Rodney Jerkins and a lot of other artists. But he’s seriously involved in his work and he’s very single-minded about it.”
Is that Austin?
“His name is Austin.”
“Yes, my son-in-law is on it as well. My son in law Rex Salas, he is very well known in the music industry. He worked with a lot of different artists. He’s a producer, and he was Janet’s music director for years. Janet still uses him from time to time, but he’s worked with, oooh, Boys II Men, Mariah Carey, Cher. He’s worked with a lot of different artists and he’s very much an accomplished pianist.”
Let me ask this, when you did put out your studio projects – I know “Yours Faithfully” and even your first album, that Michael was a part of that. Will you miss his input into your music?
“Well, Michael – what can I say? When it comes to the music, he is incredible. When it comes to producing, singing as well as writing. Yes, I will – very much so. He was incredible in the studio when I recorded ‘Centipede.’ In fact, when I recorded ‘Centipede,’ I actually learned the lyrics while I was recording it. I really did – I learned the lyrics as I was recording the song. And it was written for me – it was a song that he wrote for me, and as well there is a song on ‘Yours Faithfully’ – ‘Fly Away’ – it was one of his favorite songs. In fact, he put it on one of his albums that he released in Europe. But he produced that one – that was one that was produced on me, and he’s actually singing on that song on the chorus with me.”
Tell me this – why were you the last of the family to release a record?
“I think a lot of it was because in a lot of way, I was the last to really get involved in the music industry. My whole family was living in California when my brothers got started. And I was living in Kentucky [Laughs]. I came here years later, and so I was one of the last ones to become part of what existed at the time as a family show. As a result, I guess sort of everything sort of catapulted after that. That’s a lot of the reason why it happened.
“And then I was part of the TV show that we had at the time. And then, you know, it was just one of those things that happen in succession. But that had a lot to do with it. However, it’s interesting – even though you said that the album that I recorded – ‘Centipede’ – was recorded before any of the material that my sister Janet had recorded.”
And how did happen?
“I guess because at the time, I had just come to California. You see, how I got involved in the music industry, as far as a solo artist was concerned – ‘cause this was after we had the family show – I pretty much tried to find contact and get involved in the music industry on my own. I didn’t necessarily go through the channels of going through my family. I made my own contacts and I recorded in different studios, and it was something that I did by myself without the assistance and help with my family at first. And then naturally, at the very end, my brother Michael got involved. But Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders, he was one of the ones who produced my very first album. And I worked with him, I worked with [Grammy-winning R&B singer] Betty Wright. I worked with Wanda Hutchinson of the Emotions. And so there were different ones that I had started sort of working with. And I even worked with Isaac Hayes. I did some recording with him. I’m just saying that a lot of it was because I didn’t go through the normal channels and it was a little bit more difficult because I did it the way I did. Because when I first came to California, nobody knew who I was or anything about me. I was a mystery to just about everybody, because most people didn’t even know that the Jacksons had another sister.”
“Yeah. That’s also one my brother Tito produced on me. Tito had an incredible recording studio in his home, and Isaac and I came together, and that was one of the songs that we did.”
You and your husband, Nathaniel Brown, are married 40 years.
“That’s not correct. It’s 41 years.”
Your involvement with Michael’s children: There were some stories that you would get custody of them.
Damon Harris of The Temptations
“Right now the children are at home with my mom in California. And I help out as much as I possibly can. I’m here in Las Vegas, and I go back alllll the time. [Laughs] I’ve been away from home so much, but I’m there a lot – as much as I can be. And that basically where it’s at right now.”
Do you have any expectation that you will have a larger role at some point?
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. [Laughs] That’s a good question.”
I also just wanted to let you have a moment to tell me your feelings about your brother’s passing and your reaction.
“Well, I was very – when something like that happens with anyone, it takes you by surprise, in as much as you don’t expect it. Death is like a sting, and is something that you never get over with. But I knew he had a problem, and as a result of all that I was very much concerned. Our family had been involved in several interventions, trying to help as much as possible. And of course, he was always in denial. But then also, I know there are other underlying reasons as to when he passed – why it happened – which I can’t go into because it’s being thoroughly investigated.
“But I do know that it was the most horrible experience I’ve ever, ever, ever had in my life. And it was very difficult and it still is, because for each and every day you get up, I didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other one. I mean, I just couldn’t function. And even last night, since you asked me this question, I woke up I think around 3 in the morning. And I keep my TV on sometimes on the music channel – Soundscape easy listening music – and I just started thinking about him and I couldn’t stop. So it hurts.
“But you know, I feel that I’m looking forward to a time when hopefully I’ll be able to see him again. Because we believe in the fact that there’s a hope of a resurrection in which people will have the opportunity to live on the Earth. And that’s left in the creator’s hands.
“So I tell you, it’s not the easiest thing in the world, though. It’s very difficult. And what makes it hard is whenever you step in the food market, whenever you go into a department store, you’re on the elevator, or whenever you turn on the radio or television, you’re hearing his music everywhere. And you can’t escape from it. And at one point, I couldn’t stand to listen to the music because it reminded me. But now it’s different, which is one of the reasons why I’m not having as much of a problem performing now, because I’m looking at it from a totally different perspective now.”
“The thing about it – no matter who it is, they’re dear to you, whether they’re public or not. I mean, that’s your family. And that’s when I try to take that public part out of it in thinking about it. It’s family, and when you lose a family member, that hurts. And that’s what the public has to realize – it’s not always about his accomplishments and all that. He was my brother. I used to walk Michael to school, and I used to walk him to my grandmother’s house when he was a little bitty kid because my grandmother babysat him, and she lived a long ways away, and then I would go to a school that was close to her area. I was one of the ones that helped raise him [Laughs]. And I think of that more than anything growing up. And all the little things that happened – the personality traits and how we interacted with one another. And that’s what I always think of – he was my brother. And that’s what hurts most of all.”
Will other members of the family be at the concert in Scranton?
“Not that I know of – if there are, it’s a surprise to me.”
I have to tell you this: I actually got an e-mail from someone who identified himself as Jermaine, saying he and others would be there.
“I don’t believe that that’s true. I know you got the e-mail, I’m not questioning that. But I believe it was someone else. Not that they wouldn’t come. But I’ve been talking with Jermaine, and people do that kind of thing to us all the time. They’ve done it to me – they perpetrate and came off as if they were me.”
What else do you want me to know about the show?
“Well, it’s going to be an exciting show and, as I said earlier, there are quite a few numbers that I do, and some of them are the numbers that have been off my albums and I do some cover tunes and I also do some of the songs of my family, of my brothers as well as Michael. And it’s something that I know that the fans will really enjoy, and I’m going to do as best as job as I can. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to be there to be involved in all of this.”
“Some of the band members who are with me have been with me for years, for maybe like 20 and more years. And that’s something that’s important for me to convey. As well as the fact that I just want to say hi to the people in Scranton and then the area – Allentown. It’s something that I’m really excited about, and I look forward to being there.”