The “King of Pop” Michael Jackson has often been quoted as saying, “The greatest education is watching the masters at work.” This was a motto Jackson engrained in himself early on, having already started his music career when most children were still learning to read.
Jackson began performing at the tender age of five. Initially a last minute shoe-in for his family’s group The Jackson 5, he eventually took the role as the group’s front-man and helped catapulted them to universal acclaim.
When Motown Records signed The Jackson 5, Jackson was a preteen. He was exposed to and working alongside industry greats like founder of Motown Berry Gordy, celebrated producer Quincy Jones, and lead singer of The Supremes, Diana Ross
Jackson’s musical education was being surrounding by the best of the best and absorbing as much knowledge as he could.
An anecdote about Jackson told to NBA star Kobe Bryant sums up his commitment to mastering his craft:
“… before Thriller came out, Jackson was obsessed with the Bee Gees, and in particular their Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which then was the best-selling album of all time. Determined to eclipse the Bee Gees, Jackson began listening to Saturday Night Fever over and over. Such was his obsession that for two years straight, Jackson told friends, he listened to the album 10 times a day, until he knew every note, every beat. Until he’d internalized it, deciphered its magic and taken it for his own. A year later Thriller came out. It went on to sell more than 60 million copies and become the best-selling album of all time.” – Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated
Whether this story is true or not, there is no doubt about Jackson’s success. His body of work spans five decades and counting. Even posthumously, Jackson continues to inspire and educate artists of all genres, from Chris Brown to Celine Dion, from Usher to Snoop Dogg. What Jackson learned from the masters of his time allowed him to become a master of his own and leave a musical legacy that spans generations.
To be the best, you have to learn from the best. Find a mentor that will inspire your growth and kick start your education. A good mentor will help you hone your craft and steer you in the right direction. And when you reach or surpass your mentor’s success, give back and use your journey to inspire the others who follow in your footsteps.
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Image Credit: mjworld.net
- Michael Jackson on Finding Your Muse – June 25, 2015
- Allen Iverson on Establishing Your Footing – February 27, 2015
- Tim Duncan on Fighting for Family – September 5, 2014
- Bruno Mars on Biding Your Time – August 15, 2014
- John F. Kennedy on Finding A Foundation – July 28, 2014