Arab Americans Pay Homage to Michael Jackson
BY: Ameera David/Contributing Writer
Yesterday’s memorial service marked the conclusion of commemorative events for King of Pop, Michael Jackson. The artist was officially layed to rest following the televised memorial service which attracted an estimated 31 million viewers. While it was commonly thought Jackson’s music only affected a particular race of people, we are now aware his music influenced a variety of ethnicities— including those of the Arab American community.
Arab Americans have expressed nostalgia for what they describe as one of the greatest entertainers of all time. Medical school graduate, Nancy Daoud reflects on how Jackson impacted her childhood, “When I was a little girl, I used to struggle to learn the English language because my parents only spoke to me in Arabic. I remember hearing Michael’s songs like ‘Beat It’ and ‘Billy Jean’ and wanting so badly to sing along. I slowly learned the words to the songs and sang them over and over again, so hearing Michael’s music really helped me overcome that struggle.” She continues, “I’m saddened MJ is no longer with us to share his talent and most of all bring back my childhood memories.”
Khaled Beydoun, lawyer and business owner, echoes Daoud’s sentiments of being influenced at a very young age. He believes the best way to mourn Jackson’s death is through true celebration of his music, “I recently purchased the re-release of Michael Jackson’s first solo album, “Off the Wall,” which in my opinion is one of the most influential R&B and Soul music albums.” He adds, “I remember listening to the album when I was still a child, growing up in the ’80’s, but have loved re-discovering classics like ‘Working Day and Night’ and ‘Rock With You.’ It is also fascinating to see how many contemporary artists are so heavily influenced by MJ.”
Beydoun’s words ring true for contemporary hip-hop/blues artist, Steve Ansara. Ansara, better known for his stage name Stevie Soul, knows the exact moment he became mesmerized by Jackson “I remember being pulled in by a re-run of his 1972 “Ben” TV performance. I felt his soul at a very young age, and I felt him connect with the audience. That simple, but strong vibe on stage is the same feel I always go for in my live shows, and it has definitely made me connect better with myself as an artist.”
Yesterday, thousands were pre-selected to bid farewell in person, yet millions more reflected on the legacy of Jackson from throughout the world. Of those remembering Jackson are countless Arab Americans who will never forget his legacy and lasting impression.