Simply A Cappella: Sing Like Michael Jackson Did as a Child

On the surface, a cappella might seem like one of the simplest forms of music—there are no instruments required, and it’s an art frequently practiced by non-professional groups. But then there’s tuning, song selection, vocal percussion, choreography, transitions, choices in attire--when did a cappella get so convoluted? In Simply A Cappella, we discuss ways of stripping down complications and getting back to the core of a cappella. This is not advice for winning competitions or perfecting recordings; it’s advice for reminding yourself why you love to sing in the first place.

Looking back at old videos of Michael Jackson performing as a child, alongside his brothers, is a pretty incredible experience. Here you have pre-teen Jackson, working the stage, singing his heart out with a sort of simple joy and bravado that stems not from arrogance, but a joyful naivety—the sort of likeable bravado most people only have when they’re very young and very good at something. It’s a performance borne not from the pursuit of money, but an enjoyment of the act of performing.

Granted, knowing what we know now, all was not well with the Jackson family, and young Michael had a troubled childhood. And so, some of the magic of the Jackson Five performances is an illusion. Nonetheless, there’s no harm in striving to recreate that magic in earnest.

Stop worrying about precision, and sing with your biggest voice. Stop being wary about how you look, and show off your hippest dance moves. Stop being self conscious and start having the time of your life, making music with your friends.

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Mike Chin

Mike Chin co-founded The A Cappella Blog in 2007. He continues to share leadership responsibility for the site, overseeing columns, reviews and features as the content manager. He currently lives in Baltimore, MD.