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Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite
Michael Jackson & the Music That Was by The Voice of One traces the trajectory of Michael Jackson’s career from his days as the youngest member of the Jackson Five to his tenure as the undisputed “King of Pop.” Written from an industry insider/number one fan point of view (we never know which, as the author does not identify him/herself by name), Michael Jackson & the Music That Was offers a cogent, carefully considered accounting of the reasons for Michael Jackson’s unprecedented rise and inevitable fall from grace – most often, through the sociological lens of the “Pop Ascension” which took place under Berry Gordy at Motown and which disenfranchised Black musical artists from their authentic voices (rooted in spirituals and best represented in modern times by R&B), often with tragic results.
One of the most compelling aspects of the narrative the author has crafted is an unwavering attention to detail. Every conceivable aspect of Michael Jackson’s rise and subsequent fall is examined from all sides, chronicled and cataloged with a historian’s eye for detail and a journalist’s dedication to truth. While a lesser author might have settled for eulogizing the man who became the myth, The Voice of One is singularly focused on presenting an extraordinary musical artist as he truly was – or at least as he seemed to be. If the workings of the industry ‘machine’ upon Michael Jackson’s soul and career played out as this book would have us believe, there has never really been a chance for the general public to develop any sense of the man – the artist – as he actually was: only the reflection survives.
Michael Jackson: artistic genius and master manipulator or long-suffering victim of relentless industry pressure to conform to an ideal he could not possibly embody in any authentic sense? Whichever side of the equation you, the reader, fall on, Michael Jackson & the Music That Was offers a fascinating glimpse into the life, music, and soul of one of our culture’s most unforgettable artists and a stunning manifesto for change in an industry that deprives its superstars of cultural, ethnic, and personal identity in the relentless quest for dominance and profit.