Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown and Akon are among the first group of artists announced for the September 26 Michael Jackson tribute concert in Vienna being put together by the late pop singer’s brother Jermaine Jackson.
Organizers also announced that veteran acts Natalie Cole and Sister Sledge will perform outside the 17th-century palace of Schönbrunn in the Austrian capital, with more names slated to be announced later this week at press conferences in London on Wednesday and Berlin on Thursday.
The first group of performers also includes boy band US 5, protégés of imprisoned boy-band impresario Lou Pearlman, and actress Angela Bassett, who portrayed family matriarch Katherine Jackson in the TV-movie “The Jacksons: An American Dream.” According to organizers, Bassett will “impersonate one part of Michael Jackson’s life.” A total of 20-25 acts are expected to take part in the concert, which will be televised around the globe.
The show will be the first live performance by Chris Brown since his sentencing last month for the beating of ex-girlfriend Rihanna in February.
The performers will be backed by Jackson’s touring band, with whom he’d rehearsed for weeks before his untimely death on June 25 at the age of 50. The dancers for his planned This Is It concerts in London will also be on the bill.
Jermaine will sing a virtual duet with his late brother that he promises will be a “magic moment for all who loved his music.” Among the songs that will performed by various artists at the event are “Man in the Mirror,” “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller,” “Black or White,” “Earth Song,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Bad,” “Dirty Diana,” “Will You Be There,” “You Are Not Alone,” “Remember the Time,” “Heal the World,” “The Girl Is Mine” and “Scream.”
The palace’s grounds can accommodate more than 65,000 fans, who will watch the proceedings along with Jackson’s family and children. The 165-foot-wide stage will feature massive LED walls that can slide together and apart and a runway that allows performers to walk through the audience. [via]