By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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TICKETS ARE $15 for Michael Knight’s “Unbreakable” tribute to Michael Jackson, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St. Advance purchase is available till 5 p.m. today at the Vern Burton, and then remaining tickets will be sold at the door.
Proceeds will benefit the Port Angeles Parks and Recreation Department’s youth programs, such as the fishing derby, after-school activities and summer day camp.
For information, phone the department at 360-417-4550.
“My uncle Bob taught me how to moonwalk, how to glide, how to pop,” recalled Michael Knight, the tribute artist on his way to Port Angeles for a show at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St., this Saturday evening. Tickets are $15 for the 6 p.m. concert, with proceeds to benefit the Port Angeles Parks & Recreation Department.
“I remember practicing for hours and hours,” Knight added.
In 2001, in high school, he began appearing as Michael Jackson at pep rallies and talent shows, singing the songs he’d grown up with.
Today, Knight still puts in about three hours daily on rehearsing his act, titled “Unbreakable: A Tribute to the King of Pop.” Originally from Woonsocket, R.I., Knight tours full time now, singing and triple-spinning his way through the Jackson catalog from “I Want You Back” to “Rock with You” to “Beat It.”
Knight is coming to Port Angeles after catching the eye of Cindy Kochanek, a city staffer looking to book a tribute artist for the annual Parks and Recreation fundraiser.
Elvis Presley types came to town for these events in 2013 and 2012, so Kochanek thought it time for a change. She found Knight online, found him “pretty incredible” and found he was not far away in his new home town of Salem, Ore.
“He’s bringing a live band with backup singers and dancers,” Kochanek said, for a Las Vegas-style show.
“He looks like him, sounds like him and dances like him,” she added.
Knight is having the time of his life as a tribute artist. He seeks to give people the full experience of Jackson’s music, from his days as a preteen phenomenon all the way up through “Billie Jean,” “Bad” and beyond. He changes costumes to reflect the “Smooth Criminal,” “Thriller” and other eras, of course.
Knight, who is white, said he does hear “comments here and there” about Jackson’s troubled history.
The artist, born in 1958, burst onto the pop music scene in 1968 with the Jackson Five, and two years later made history when the group’s first four singles, “The Love You Save,” “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “I’ll Be There,” all hit No. 1.
Jackson’s 1982 album “Thriller” is the best-selling record of all time; his hundreds of honors make him the most-awarded singer in the history of popular music.
But later, Jackson’s life was marred by accusations of child abuse. The first time, in the 1990s, the case was settled out of court, but in 2005 a second case went to trial. Jackson was acquitted but remained a controversial figure.
The artist died, at age 50, of acute intoxication and cardiac arrest June 25, 2009.
Knight, for his part, fervently believes the man’s music transcends all that. Jackson was a genius, Knight says, and his artistry stands. Then he predicts we’ll be seeing more Jackson tribute artists on stages around the country.
“There’s a good handful of us,” Knight said. “But five to 10 years from now, Michael will be the next Elvis, with tribute artists wearing one glove and moonwalking. . . . It’s just a matter of time.”
In the show, “If I do a good enough job,” he added, “I get a ‘We love you, Michael.’”