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Columbia College Chicago
Genius without Borders: A Symposium in Honor of the Genius of Michael Jackson

Genius without Borders: A Symposium in Honor of the Genius of Michael Jackson

September 24–25
Chicago, IL


Registration for the symposium is now closed, but tickets for the Friday evening panel will be available at the door.

Watch the symposium live on Justin.tv: http://www.justin.tv/gwb2010more details below.


Symposium Venues

Registration, check-in, and all sessions on September 24 and 25 will be held on the Columbia College Chicago campus at 1104 South Wabash Avenue, Film Row Cinema, 8th floor.

The September 24 evening event, for which separate tickets must be purchased ($20) at the door, will be held in the Pritzker Auditorium, Harold Washington Library Center, 400 South State Street. For more information about the event, please call the Center for Black Music Research at 312.369.7559 or email cbmr.contact@colum.edu.


Friday, September 24
8:00–9:30 a.m.
Registration check-in
1104 South Wabash Avenue
Film Row Cinema, 8th floor
9:30–10:30 a.m.
“The Alchemist: Michael Jackson and His Magical Pursuit of White Power”
  • Gregory Tate, presenter
Greg Tate is a writer and musician who lives in Harlem. Since 1999, he has led the Conducted Improv ensemble Burnt Sugar Arkestra, who recently returned from Paris where they were the pitband for Melvin Van Peebles' operatic revival of Sweet Sweetback's Badass Song. Tate's books include Everything But The Burden, What White People Are Taking from Black Culture (Harlem Moon/Random House, 2003), Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and The Black Experience (Acapella/Lawrence Hill, 2003), and Flyboy in the Buttermilk, Essays on American Culture (Simon and Shuster, 1993). Next year, Duke University Press will publish Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader. Tate is currently working on James Brown's Body and the Revolution of the Mind (Farrar Strauss Giroux), the working title for a book about the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
No words summarize Michael Jackson's life and career more than Transformation, Transmutation, and Transubstantiation. As a child of five, he was witnessed to be such a dazzling impersonator of James Brown that he pole-vaulted over his older brother Jermaine to take position as The Jackson 5's lead singer. He was also the only person at the height of Brown's career even capable of impersonating the Master. His ability to sing soul music with as much professionalism, passion, and proficiency as any adult star of the era marked him as more mutant than moppet. As his control over his career advanced in his teens, Jackson demonstrated that he could write, arrange, and produce hit material with as much savvy, originality, and enduring quality as any of the master composers he had worked with at Motown—Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson notwithstanding. What became increasingly clear after the phenomenal market triumphs of his solo albums Off The Wall and Thriller was that Jackson was not only musically ambitious but entrepreneurially driven as well. These desires were racially and economically motivated—in fact, like James Brown and Berry Gordy, he refused to distinguish between racial and personal status. An astute reader of the differences between how African Americans and other folk were positioned, promoted, and paid in the business, Jackson systematically went about equalizing the situation by any means necessary—be it at the bargaining table (where his special royalty rate inverted the monumental amount the record label typically extracted per units sold versus their artists, in Jackson's favor) or through spending his own money for extravagant promotional state of the art videos which ranked with the production values of the best Hollywood films of the era. Jackson also lived a public life that deliberately exploited his eccentricity for publicity value so that he was covered in a way that few black entertainers are, unless there's a criminal charge afoot. All these gestures were a deliberate and programmatic response to racist disparity in American entertainment and evidence of what I call will-to-mogul-power moves on Jackson's part—all based on his clear assessment of the industry's various ceilings on black accomplishment and recognition. What Jackson's cosmetic surgery and adoption of white children demonstrate was the degree to which he was in pursuit of privilege, power, and remuneration on a level that would assure he was seen as more than equal to his white friends at the top of the food chain in the American movie business. This paper will explore those drives and examine the ways Jackson used his alchemical skills as a visionary performing shape-shifter and soul man to combat white supremacy through his own career and life, both professional and private.
10:45–11:45 a.m.
“Michael and the Motherland”
  • Stephanie Shonekan, presenter
Stephanie Shonekan is associate professor of ethnomusicology and humanities and director of the Black World Studies program at Columbia College Chicago. Shonekan earned her bachelors and masters in Nigeria and her doctorate in ethnomusicology from Indiana University Bloomington. Shonekan's intertwined Nigerian and Trinidadian heritage inspires her research investigations into the literary, musical and cultural parallels and distinctions that exist between Africa and the African diaspora. She researches and teaches classes on the Black Arts Movement, the Harlem Renaissance, contemporary African life, literature and music, and global hip-hop culture, among others. Shonekan's manuscript, Madam Butterfly: The Memoir of Camilla Williams, Soprano is currently at press. Shonekan has contributed a chapter titled “Nigerian Hip-Hop: Exploring a Black World Hybrid” to be included in the upcoming book Hip Hop Africa and Other New African Music in a Globalized World. Shonekan's current creative and scholarly work focuses on the revolutionary and musical influence Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti had on her legendary son, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Her article, “Fela's Foundation,” is published in Black Music Research Journal (Spring 2009). Shonekan wrote and produced a short film, Lioness of Lisabi, which is loosely based on the life of Funmilayo Kuti. The film was awarded first prize by the Children's Jury of the Chicago International Children's Film Festival.
Since the second half of the twentieth century, African-American popular music has provided a virtual bridge across the “Black Atlantic,” connecting young people in the United States to those in other parts of the Diaspora and Africa. Without leaving their shores, young Africans have crossed that bridge to access the vibrancy of African American life by listening to the popular music that has made its way to the motherland. Michael Jackson featured as a vital section of that bridge, blasting from radios and boom boxes in small towns and large cities across the continent. This paper will examine the ways in which Africans in general, and Nigerians in particular, related to Michael Jackson—the power of his music and the peculiarity of his persona. It will assess how his performance style was appropriated by local performers and the manner in which his complex identity was interpreted by his African audience. Ultimately, this paper will use the case of Michael Jackson to test the strength and viability of the bridge to convey musical, cultural, and historical truths about the African-American experience.
11:45 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Lunch (on your own)
1:30–2:30 p.m.
“Smooth Criminality”: Racial Phantasmagoria & Black Fugitivity in Michael Jackson's (Dancing) Body Politic
  • Daphne Brooks, presenter
Daphne A. Brooks is professor of English and African-American Studies at Princeton University, where she teaches courses on African-American literature and culture, performance studies, critical gender studies, and popular music culture. She is the author of two books: Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850–1910 (Duke University Press, 2006), and Jeff Buckley's Grace (Continuum, 2005). Brooks is currently at work on a new book titled Subterranean Blues: Black Women and Sound Subcultures—from Minstrelsy through the New Millennium (Harvard University Press, forthcoming). Brooks is the author of numerous articles on race, gender, performance and popular music culture. She is a 2010–2011 Faculty Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
Michael Jackson is the most powerfully imaginative architect of African diasporic kinesthetic memory that contemporary popular culture has ever known. This paper examines the power of dance and theatrical spectacle as forms of fugitive performance, diasporic memory, and black futurity in the performative career of Michael Jackson, and it traces Jackson's legacy in the work of contemporary Afropunk extraordinaire Janelle Monáe. Jackson wove together elements of classic soul, dance floor funk and disco, delicate pop, and Ellington/Strayhorn lush life jazz sensibilities. He crossfaded large swathes of the history of twentieth-century pop music culture through the sensually, corporeally expressive grain of his vocals into a dense, mobile pastiche of resonance and wonder. This paper considers the ways in which Jackson both struggled (publicly, spectacularly) with dominant representations of “the black body” while simultaneously articulating the deep celebratory joy of an ecstatically resistant black body that moves wondrously, mysteriously, and miraculously. As we shall see, no other entertainer used his or her body of work and working body to spectacularly challenge, question, and wrangle with the limitations of how we define race and gender in contemporary culture. The second half of this paper considers the ways that subterranean homesick afropunk blues alien Janelle Monáe continues to invoke and revise Michael Jackson's pathbreaking aesthetics in her own eccentric stage repertoire. Part Elvis busting out of the jailhouse, with a dash of Ethel Williams rocking the “ball and chain” at the end of Harlem Renaissance line, part Michael J's cosmic slop, and a few heaping scoops of J.B. on The T.A.M.I. Show, Monáe's buzz of the year, you-just-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it act kicks a pixilated version of old school power, sass, and glam dance so hard that she manages to punt blackness, womanhood, sexuality, and that most underappreciated yet so integral category of rock and roll subculture: dance itself—all the way to a future not yet fully realized in this mortal pop zeitgeist moment. All decked out with a pompadour in a black and white suit, Monae is working a new form of kinesthetic nostalgia and retro rock and soul of the body rather than just on the turntables. Like Michael and Janet before her, her brand of fugitive black futurity makes you wanna scream.
2:45–3:45 p.m.
“The Postmodern Genius of Michael Jackson”
  • Bonnie Brooks and Raquel Monroe, presenters
Bonnie Brooks

Bonnie Brooks chairs the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, where she is a tenured associate professor. She oversees the department's academic program as well as the Dance Center's contemporary dance presenting series, which she co-curates with executive director Phil Reynolds. A native of Washington DC, she has held numerous administrative posts in the dance field, including executive directorships at Dance/USA and the Minnesota Dance Alliance, and managing director of the David Gordon/Pick Up Co. She began her work in arts administration at the National Endowment for the Arts. She was a visiting assistant professor in UCLA's World Arts and Cultures Department during 1996–99. Brooks studied theater and English at Wheaton College (IL), and earned a master's degree, also in English, from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Raquel Monroe

Raquel L. Monroe is a scholar, activist, and artist whose work explores the dynamic interplay between the performative and socio-political constructions of black female corporeality, black social mobility, and activism within African American communities. Her current manuscript blends feminist ethnography and performance analysis to explore how class informs the performance of sexuality within African American communities, and in turn, how the performance of sexuality and black social mobility impacts social activism in these communities. Monroe is an assistant professor in dance at Columbia College Chicago.

A glittery gloved right hand grabs the crotch/the left arm extends diagonally through the index finger to the floor/the head snaps over the left shoulder/the left hand flashes and lands on top of the head, the gloved hand extends diagonally to the floor/the head snaps over the right shoulder/the glittered hand snaps back to the crotch/the left arm jets down and out again/the right knee flexes and swings the right leg open/and the hips pulse back and forth to match the persistent, familiar, nostalgic bass line. We know from the glove alone that it is Michael Jackson or someone performing as/citing the King of Pop. This presentation illustrates how Michael Jackson's dancing body functions not only as a commodity fetish, but also the signifier and the signified, to choreograph a specific history of dance in popular culture. We argue Michael Jackson's postmodern genius is his choreographed pastiche, which cites the dancing bodies and ideals of his predecessors and informs the choreographies of his contemporaries and his “disciples.”
4:00–5:00 p.m.
“Sampling Michael: Rhythm, Masculinity, and Intellectual Property in the ‘Body’ of Michael Jackson”
  • Mark Anthony Neal, presenter
Mark Anthony Neal is Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University. He is the author of four books, What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (Routledge, 1998), Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (Routledge, 2002), Songs in the Keys of Black Life: A Rhythm and Blues Nation (Routledge, 2003) and New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity (Routledge, 2005). Neal is also the co-editor, with Murray Forman, of That's the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader, 2nd edition, which will be published by Routledge in January of 2011. Neal's next book, Looking for Leroy: (Il)Legible Black Masculinities, will be published next year by New York University Press. Neal is a frequent commentator for National Public Radio, a weekly columnist for theLoop21.com, and a contributor to several on-line media outlets, including The Root.com, theGrio.com, SeeingBlack.com, and Britain's New Black Magazine. Neal maintains a blog at http://newblackman.blogspot.com/ and can be followed on Twitter @NewBlackMan.
When Michael Jackson reached the commercial apex of his career in the mid-1980s, he did so not only on the strength of his formidable talent and creative vision, but also as the most visible embodiment of the broad traditions of African-American and Diasporic musicality. Much has been made of Jackson's early development on the chitlin' circuit of the mid-west in the 1960s and of the influence popular figures like James Brown and Jackie Wilson had on his performance. Less has been made of the influence of vocalists like Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, and, notably, William Hart of the Delfonics. Throughout his development Michael Jackson began to function as an archival resource of black movement, voice, and gender performance, which he deftly managed and negotiated in performances that were as flawless as they were fluid. As Michael Jackson was always in conversation with a broad range of black vernacular expression, it would figure that he would “sample” from black culture as often as he was “sampled.” As such the free exchange of cultural practices and ideas that flowed through the body of Michael Jackson raises interesting questions about intellectual property and proprietary artistic rights and the ways that black culture has historically subverted conventional wisdom in these matters.
7:30–9:30 p.m.
Special Panel Presentation: “It's All About the Music: An Insider's Look at Michael Jackson's Art”

Michael Jackson and Ed Eckstein
Pritzker Auditorium
Harold Washington Library Center
400 South State Street, Chicago
Tickets are required and will be available at the door.

Ed Eckstein, host and moderator

Ed Eckstein

The son of legendary vocalist, bandleader, and matinee idol Billy Eckstine, Ed Eckstein has had a varied and extensive career in the music business. He joined Quincy Jones's budding media operation in 1974 and spent nearly eleven years as a key executive member of Jones's production empire, serving in a variety of positions on projects by the Brothers Johnson, Michael Jackson, George Benson, Rufus & Chaka Khan, Patti Austin, James Ingram, the soundtracks to Roots and the film adaptation of The Wiz, and Quincy's classic recordings. In 1985, Eckstein joined Clive Davis's Arista Records as vice president of A&R, where he contributed creatively to projects by Whitney Houston, Kenny G., Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Expose, and Jermaine Stewart. In 1986, he began a decade-plus-long tenure with Polygram Records. His initial signings there included Vanessa Williams; Tony, Toni, Toné; Robin Harris; and Brian McKnight. In 1990, Eckstein became the first African American to be appointed president of a major non-black-owned recording company. He is currently co-producing with Moon Dog Films an eight-hour documentary television series, tentatively titled The Rhythm & Blues Project, on the history of R&B and soul music from post World War II.

Siedah Garrett, panelist

Siedah Garrett

Siedah Garrett, a singer, songwriter, and performer, has written for a diverse selection of recording artists from Aretha Franklin to Al Jarreau, from The Korrs to Vanessa Williams, and from Barry White to Amy Grant. Garrett's songs are featured on hit albums such as Quincy Jones's Back On The Block and Paula Abdul's Forever Your Girl. She is probably best known for co-writing Michael Jackson's worldwide hit, “Man In The Mirror.” She was the featured duet vocalist with Jackson on the hit single “I Just Can't Stop Loving You” and has sung with a wide array of acts including Johnnie Mathis, Patti Austin, Quincy Jones, The Pointer Sisters, The Commodores, Kenny Loggins, Chaka Kahn, and others. As a member of London's acclaimed neo-funk band Brand New Heavies, Garrett co-wrote over half of the group's album Shelter, which sold over a million copies in the United Kingdom. Her most recent work has been focused on writing, producing, and performing her new self-titled album Siedah.

Ricky Lawson, panelist

Ricky Lawson

Ricky Lawson is best known as the drummer for such artists as Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, Phil Collins, Babyface, The Yellow Jackets, Whitney Houston, Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, and many others. Lawson is also one of the most respected songwriters, producers, and arrangers in the music industry. A founding member of the Yellow Jackets, Ricky received two Grammy nominations and a Grammy award in 1986 for writing the hit song “And You Know That” on the album Shades. Ricky performed on Whitney Houston's multi-million seller “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard soundtrack (which was recently labeled the number-one-selling soundtrack of all time), Anita Baker's “Sweet Love,” James Ingrams's “I Don't Have The Heart,” and Lionel Richie's “Dancing On The Ceiling.” Ricky co-wrote and co-produced the Pointer Sisters' hit “Uh-Uh” and the Fat Burger hit “Good News.” Other writing and/or co-producing credits include tracks for Only You, Star Trek 5, Barney's Great Adventure—The Movie, as well as Helen Baylor's “There's No Greater Love” and “When You Believe” performed by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey for the soundtrack to The Prince of Egypt. Lawson is a highly versatile drummer, having developed expertise in jazz, country and western, pop, R&B, funk, and Latin rhythms—a versatility that allows him to perform with a wide spectrum of artists.

Greg Phillinganes, panelist

Greg Phillinganes

Greg Phillinganes is one of the world's most prolific keyboard artists. A Detroit native and music veteran for over 30 years, he began his career in 1975 with Stevie Wonder as part of his band, Wonderlove. Since leaving Stevie in 1979, Phillinganes went on to record, perform, tour, and/or write with a staggering array of GRAMMY Award winning artists, including Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys, Smokey Robinson, Eric Clapton, Ne-Yo, Barbra Streisand, Rod Stewart, Anita Baker, Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock, George Harrison, Ray Charles, Mick Jagger, Babyface, Andrea Bocelli, Natalie Cole, John Legend, Willie Nelson, Chaka Khan, David Foster, Ruben Studdard, Charlie Wilson, Richie Sambora, Mary J. Blige, Boz Scaggs, Whitney Houston, John Mayer, Usher, Santana, Diana Ross, Burt Bacharach, Fantasia, Elton John, and the late Michael Jackson. Greg is an ASCAP Pop Award Winner for the song “Love Will Conquer All,” which he co-wrote with Lionel Richie. In addition to being music director for Richie's and Jackson's first solo tours, Greg served as music director for Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary special at Madison Square Garden, Quincy Jones's “VIBE” television show, The 60th EMMY Awards, and the first Annual GRAMMY Nominations Live Concert, along with a wide range of special events including the 1999 Super Bowl Halftime show and MUSICARES's “Person of the Year event”—both honoring Stevie Wonder. A GRAMMY nominee himself, Greg has been a cornerstone in hundreds of GRAMMY Award winning albums, including Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key Of Life and Michael Jackson's Thriller. Phillinganes was also a member of the GRAMMY Award winning supergroup Toto from 2003 to the band's farewell in 2008 and is featured on their final album Falling In Between. As an event producer, Phillingane's credits include the Society of Singers' Tributes to Elton John and Natalie Cole, The Michael Jordan Classic Golf Invitational, the US Doctors For Africa “Leadership For Health” Gala featuring 16 First Ladies of African Nations and Quincy Jones's 75th Birthday Celebration filmed live in Montreux, Switzerland. Phillinganes is now Touring with Herbie Hancock as part of the “Imagine Project” Tour with stops in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Harry Weinger, panelist

Harry Weinger

Harry Weinger, an entertainment industry veteran of over thirty years, is a two-time Grammy-winning reissue producer, writer, and educator who is currently Vice President of A&R for Universal Music Enterprises, the catalog reissue arm of Universal Music Group. Weinger has produced, mixed, written, and edited liner notes for hundreds of reissues, compilations, and music DVDs, notably the Motown family of classic recordings, the James Brown catalog, the Verve Music catalog, and prominent artists in the world of Funk, Soul, and Jazz. His definitive overview of the music of Mr. Brown, the 4-CD box set Star Time, was not only a Grammy® Award winner, but was named by The New York Times “one of the Top 25 recordings of the 20th Century.” He produced the expanded editions of Marvin Gaye's “What's Going On,” “Let's Get It On,” “I Want You,” and “Here My Dear” packages. His many current projects include the final volumes in the massive documentation of every Motown single released during the company's heyday; an overview of every James Brown single; box sets on Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole, Clifford Brown, and Stan Getz, and the unreleased Jackson 5 album Live At The Forum, chronicling the group's historic appearances at the famed Los Angeles venue; and many others. Weinger has written for Rolling Stone and Vibe magazine, where he was one of its original contributing writers, as well as the trade magazines Billboard, Cash Box, and Hits. He has also been a contributing author to several books and, as a consultant for feature films, he has helped develop the soundtracks for such diverse films as Four Brothers, Liberty Heights, and Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, the acclaimed documentary about Motown's Funk Brothers band. A cum laude graduate of Ithaca College with a BS in communications, Weinger was Music Director of the school's nationally recognized FM radio station. He is an honorary Temptation, an honor bestowed upon him by original members Otis Williams and the late Melvin Franklin.

Saturday, September 25
8:30–9:30 a.m.
Registration check-in
1104 South Wabash Avenue
Film Row Cinema, 8th floor
9:30–11:00 a.m.
“Big Boy: Michael Jackson in Chicago, 1965–1968”
A panel discussion among music industry figures who worked with the Jackson Five during their developmental years as a Chicago nightclub act before their “discovery” by Motown.
  • Jake Austen (host and moderator)
Invited panelists include:
  • Gordon Keith – As owner of Steeltown Records, Keith helped manage the Jackson Five and released the group's first single, “Big Boy,” in 1967.
  • Clinton Ghent – Best known for hosting the local version of Soul Train (1970–1976), Ghent was also a choreographer who developed some of the Jackson Five's earliest dance routines.
  • Larry Blasingaine – As a teenage guitarist, Blasingaine and his band the Young Folks shared stages and rehearsal space with the Jackson Five. Blasingaine also played with (and coached) the Jackson brothers on their first known studio recording session. He would later play guitar with the Emotions and Jackie Wilson.
  • Wilton Crump – With his vocal group, Crump competed with the Jackson Five at Roosevelt High talent shows. He later did arrangements on the group's second Steeltown single, “We Don't Have to Be Over 21 (To Fall in Love).” He later managed doo wop legends the Spaniels and is currently that group's lead singer.

Jacob Austen is a music journalist and author of TV-a-Go-Go: Rock on TV from American Bandstand to American Idol. He is currently working on a book about Michael Jackson in Chicago 1965–1968.

11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Open discussion with the symposium participants
12:00 p.m.
Symposium concludes
3:00–3:45 p.m.
Class: Learn Choreography from Michael Jackson's “Thriller”
Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago dancer Amansu Eason will teach choreography from Michael Jackson's “Thriller”

Amansu Eason began performing at age four with Morning Bishop Theatre Playhouse in Gary, Indiana. At age ten he began studying ballet, jazz, tap, and modern at Merson School for the Visual and Performing Arts. During the next six years, he began creating his own style that fuses those disciplines, including extensive training in Afro-Caribbean movements and rhythms. He has performed throughout the United States and in Mexico and Brazil. For eight years, he has taught African and hip-hop throughout the Chicago area, northwest Indiana, and Ohio. A dance minor at Bowling Green State University and a major in Africana Studies, he received extensive training in a variety of dance styles, including the Dunham technique. He has performed with Ben Harper, opened for artists such as Omarion, Marcus Houston, Mary Mary, and Arrested Development, and performed a solo for Michael Jackson. He is currently a principal dancer with Muntu African Dance Theater of Chicago.

The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago
1306 S. Michigan Avenue
Studio 200
Offered in association with
  • The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306-Ten Years Later
  • Columbia College Chicago alumni weekend

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Photo by Laura Gray

Althea Legaspi is a Chicago-based writer/journalist. She's a regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune, and her work has been featured in USA Today, Independent UK, Paste Magazine, Time Out, and Relix Magazine, among others. She is NPR-affiliate WBEZ's “Eight Forty-Eight” on-air music critic, and her features also air on “All Things Considered.” She teaches Music Journalism, Writing for Radio, and Radio Interviewing at Columbia College Chicago and has also served as an on-camera correspondent for Rollingstone.com, HOB.com, and the TV version of “Sound Opinions.”


Ronnie Reese is a lifelong Chicagoan and candidate for a master of science degree in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University. A 2003 graduate of Loyola University Chicago, he previously worked on staff at the Chicago Tribune and RollingStone.com, as well as a freelance contributor to Anthem, Mass Appeal, Stop Smiling, and Vapors magazines, and alternative weeklies the Dallas Observer, East Bay Express, and San Francisco Weekly. Reese served as editor-in-chief of the Medill School's Academy for Alternative Journalism publication Who-Ville, and wrote Keeping Granny Alive, the definitive biography of famed African-American cartoonist Robert “Buck” Brown. In 2008, as a copywriter for Blue Note Records, he penned liner notes for reissued albums by Eddie Henderson, Bobbi Humphrey, and Reuben Wilson. Reese is a contributing editor for Wax Poetics magazine, where, in 2009, for the Wax Poetics Michael Jackson tribute issue, he wrote extensive features on the Jackson family's roots and legacy in their Gary, Indiana, hometown (“Goin' Back to Indiana”) and a history of the Corporation (“Well-Oiled Machine”), the group of Motown Records songwriters responsible for some of the Jackson 5's biggest hits.

Own a Unique Michael Jackson Photograph

Michael Jackson Photo by Vandell Cobb. Click to enlarge

Make a bid for this single-issue original photograph of Michael Jackson. Other professional photographers working the same event may have taken similar photographs, but this particular image by Columbia College alumnus Vandell Cobb, in whose private collection the negative will remain, is unique and has never been published.

SOLD! for $500

Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Columbia College Photography Department scholarship funds.

After graduating from Columbia College Chicago in 1975, Vandell Cobb worked for thirty-one years for Johnson Publishing Company as a staff photographer for Ebony and Jet magazines. His photographs have been used on numerous magazine covers and in feature stories; his subjects have included U.S. presidents from Reagan to Obama, world leaders such as South Africa President Nelson Mandela and Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, haute couture collections in Paris and Rome, and sports and entertainment figures such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Earth, Wind and Fire, Oprah Winfrey, Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson.

Bids will be accepted by telephone only, beginning 9 a.m. on Monday, August 16, 2010, and closing 5 p.m. on Friday, September 24, 2010. Symposium attendees will be able to offer live bids immediately prior to the announcement of the winning bidder at 12 noon on Saturday, September 25, 2010. You do not need to be present to win. If you have the winning bid but are not present, you will be notified by telephone.

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