Music is like an audible timeline, the instant we hear a melody, we step back inside a memory. Perhaps no music transports us faster or grounds us further than the soundtrack of our childhood. Who did you listen to when you were younger? For me, it was a mixture of classic rock and Frank Sinatra, courtesy of my grandmother and it is that genre, those bands, The Voice himself that I will have a particular fondness towards for all my days. Knowing the impact of music, how it structures us, the feelings it evokes and what it teaches, it’s important to have a genuine appreciation for the art form that is music. There is someone out there who started of their musical education listening to greats and it is because of that foundation that they will carry that music with them for life, passing it along as they go, enabling the songs, the sounds, and the message to live forever.
On stage, he is known as The Kid of Pop, a ten-year-old (yes, ten) entertainer from the United Kingdom who has been keeping the legacy of Michael Jackson alive for years. Otis Phoenix, as he’s known off-stage, is someone who had the good fortune of growing up listening to artists of impact. Musicians who put sincerity, talent, and meaning into their work. Considering Phoenix is decades younger than the star he emulates, a fair opening question seemed to be, “who introduced you to Michael Jackson?”
”It was around the time that David Bowie passed away (2016) and ’Starman’ was one of my favourite songs. I would listen to it every night before I went to sleep. One day, I asked my mum if she knew any other good songs and she showed me, ’Black or White’, on YouTube and at that moment I was totally hooked on wanting to dance and perform.” Moms do know best.
When thinking of tribute artists, at first glance it may be easy to confuse the concept as a form of copying, when in reality, the term tribute refers to accolades, respect, honor, and acknowledgment. The Kid of Pop is one of many paying homages to the unmatchable talent and vigor of The King of Pop.
“For me, it’s not about wanting to be another ’MJ tribute artist’. There is and only ever will be ONE Michael Jackson. I don’t want to be him or copy him, I’m just INSPIRED by him and feel his energy through the music and love his style.” Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. He continued, ”I just enjoy dancing and love to share the music and performance of one of the world’s greatest entertainers. I hope that my dancing will inspire other young people and help Michael Jackson’s music and legacy continue for a whole new generation.”
As for learning the art of performance and choreography, The Kid of Pop took the advice of Jackson himself who said, “there is no greater education than watching the masters at work.” At the age of seven is when Phoenix began studying. “I haven’t had any formal dance training and learnt to dance by watching the choreography of MJ and other artists including Bruno Mars, Usher…and the greatest of all Fred Astaire.” Fred Astaire was an American dancer, actor, and choreographer who passed away in 1987 after having a career that spanned over seven decades. He is widely considered the most influential dancer in the history of film. Astaire inspired Jackson and now both Jackson and Astaire inspire Phoenix, and so from one generation to another, the legacy continues. Before his death, Astaire commented on Jackson.
“My favourite artist in the music industry at the moment is The Weeknd. The song ‘Blinding Lights’ is my go-to tune! I also really admire Fleur East she is an incredible artist and her choreography is awesome.”
Phoenix is currently working with other artists to create his own material as he doesn’t consider himself to be a tribute artist but one of the billions that enjoy the music and legacy of MJ. His hope is for success that inspires other kids to become involved in the music industry.
KINGVENTION an honorary event in London, celebrated Michael Jackson with a packed house. In the audience were titans of the music industry such as Siedah Garrett, Darryl Phinnessee and Larry Stessel. The Kid of Pop opened the show.
“The energy in the theatre that day (at Kingvention) was unreal and being there with the MJ Fam was a feeling you can’t describe.”-The Kid of Pop
Phoenix says he is “forever grateful” for being given the “opportunity of a lifetime.” Joey James, a musician, Xfactor finalist, and performer in Thriller Live-a touring show in the West End-is someone The Kid of Pop met early on in his dancing career. “Watching his achievements over the years has really driven me,” Phoenix said. Recently, he had the honor of dancing on the West End stage in London for the cast of Thriller Live, thanks to their incredible choreographer and director, Gary Lloyd. Phoenix said, “It would be my dream to one day be a performer there.” In closing, was arguably the most difficult question for any member of the MJ Fam to answer.
“What is your favorite thing about Michael Jackson?”
“I couldn’t name just one thing,” Otis began, “it’s everything about MJ. Him as a person, his music, his humbleness, his compassion, and his incredible creativity and determination to make the world a better place and to make others happy.”
“I just hope MJ realised the positive impact he had on the world!” When asked what he would like to leave the readers of Mindless Peace with for the third installment in the Creative Spotlight series, this performer had words that echoed the ever-present vibe of Michael himself. Otis said, “always be kind, stay positive, keep focused and never give up on your dreams.”
Where to find him:
YouTube: The Kid of Pop
Facebook: The Kid of Pop