By Felicity Clarke, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death later this month will be marked in Rio de Janeiro with a special vigil on Copacabana beach on Friday, June 25th and the unveiling of a Michael Jackson statue and cultural center in Morro Dona Marta in Botafogo the following day.
When Michael Jackson died last June, fans worldwide were thrown into a state of shock and mourning. In Rio, the most visible displays of the artist’s impact on the city were at the hundreds of newspaper kiosks where people spontaneously congregated to watch the DVDs of his concerts. For weeks after, as in many parts of the world, his music came to the forefront of playlists in the city’s shops, bars and radio stations.
As well as through his music, Jackson connected with Rio in 1996 when he shot part of the “They Don’t Care About Us” video in the Santa Marta favela in Botafogo. The event assumed huge significance for the community, as José Mario Hilario dos Santos, president of the Santa Marta residents association, explained; “There are a lot of fans in the community. Everyone loves Michael Jackson and you could always hear his music here. He could have chosen any of the communities and it means a lot that he came here.”
On Saturday the statue of Jackson will be inaugurated on the site of that video’s location. The platform forms the roof of a new cultural center for the Aos Pés do Santa Marta project , which will provide music tuition to young people in the community. “Michael opened the world’s eyes to the social situation in Rio,” says Aos Pés organizer Pierre Avila. “He brought vision and put Santa Marta on the map.” The new center will provide renovated space for classes and rehearsals as well as a library and music studio.
The opening event on Saturday starts at midday with performances of Michael Jackson hits by Aos Pés music and dance groups and the Orquestra de Cordas da Grota from Niterói. Visitors are encouraged to bring donations of powdered milk, rice or other non-perishable food items as a contribution for the free show.
The Saturday event in Santa Marta will follow on from the vigil on Friday night in Copacabana that forms part of World Cry 2010. It will be the first of an annual event organized by Michael Jackson fans to commemorate and honor the King of Pop’s memory with fellow fans around the world coming together to play the song “Cry” in a simultaneous global homage. In Rio, fans will be invited to write their tributes to Michael on a banner that will be sent to his children.
The program of events in Rio de Janeiro has been organized by the local social action Michael Jackson fan group Faça A Mudança (Make the Change). As one of the group’s organizers Mel Silva explains, Michael Jackson’s legacy reaches far beyond his music. “He was the best musical artist and dancer but beyond this he was a good humanitarian person who promoted love and caring for those around you. Everyone knows his music, but people forget that he worked to help people and this is the most beautiful side of him and what we look to celebrate with World Cry 2010.”
Friday, June 25th, 2010
World Cry 2010 vigil in front of Copacabana Palace (Posto 3) – 7PM.
“Cry” will be played at 7:30PM.
Saturday, June 26th, 2010
Santa Marta meeting at Praça Corumba, Rua São Clemente – 11AM.
The event is at Station 4 of the Santa Marta tram.