Detroit Honors The Jacksons Review – An Outpouring of Love from Friends and Fans

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Fifty years ago in the Summer of 1968,  the Jackson 5, now known as the Legendary Jacksons left their hometown Gary, Indiana with Papa Joe Jackson as their manager for the Motor City of Detroit, Michigan to sign with Berry Gordy Jr., and his record label Motown.

Papa Joe takes his sons from Gary, Indiana, to Detroit, to Hollywood and to the top of the world after uniting with Berry Gordy Jr., at Motown – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Successful careers followed:  No. 1 hits, family expansion, traveling the world, meeting the Queen of England, South African President Nelson Mandela, Presidents of the United States, other worldwide leaders, and their adoring fans.

Unfortunately, death is part of life, and the Jacksons lost their lead singer, their younger brother, the Greatest Entertainer of All Time—Michael Jackson.  Life continues and 50 years later the remaining brothers Marlon, Jermaine, Tito, and Jackie are still performing at the top of their game.

The Jacksons, their signature sunglasses, and slow walk to the microphones started us screaming – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

My friends and I gathered in Detroit June 15 – 17, 2018 out of respect for the Jacksons and to participate in this great, fun-filled Detroit Music Weekend Salute to the legendary Jacksons. I had invited others across the United States to meet me in Detroit. For those friends who came to share this moment with me, we had a blast from the past!!!

Jeanine Jackson, Will Witherspoon (retired), Renee Sudderth, and childhood/classmate friend, Charlayne Wilson Watkins gathers in front of the Greektown Casino/Hotel in downtown Detroit – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Childhood Jackson 5 friends – Renee Sudderth, Vicky Keys Powell, Jeanine Orange Jackson and “The Shot News” newspaper’s International Photographer, Gary Hunter dining at Detroit Seafood Market – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

This included my best friend from 4th and 5th grade, Jeanine Orange Jackson. Together, we are known as the Jackson 2 because we won a community talent show in 1972 at age 12 to the Jackson 5 songs “Walk On” and their No. 1 tune “The Love You Save”.  During the year we turned 50, we performed the routine three times and we jokily said we were on tour and people were still screaming at us. What great fun and memories!!!

The Jackson 2 – Jeanine Orange Jackson and Renee Sudderth “Back Together Again” – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth but Artist Creativity by Terry Collins and Katrina Liggin Shannon

My good friend Vicky Keys Powell and I met in 1972 through the Right On! magazine, Pen Pal section when she saw my name listed.  Everyone thought it was a Jackson 5 magazine because the entire book was usually about –yes, The Jackson 5. In Vicky’s initial letter, she told me she loved the Jackson 5.  I knew then, we were friends for life!!!

Once we landed in Detroit, we ventured to Toledo, Ohio, which was a one hour drive, to see the African-American Legacy Project Museum.  The museum features well-known successful past and present African-Americans who are/were part of Toledo and its surrounding communities. On the weekend of June 22, 2018, they are honoring a second class of sport inductees. This is awesome and is under the leadership of Robert Smith. I strongly recommend you visit this “free admission” museum while in Toledo.

Back in Detroit, they were honoring the Jacksons at a $1,000 Gala-Dinner-Fashion Show with tributes from local talent performing and singing to the Jacksons’ music while the real Jacksons sat at the elegant dinner tables, dancing, smiling, enjoying, and watching the younger generation imitate them. Initially, we were not planning to attend; so by the time we arrived, the Gala was over. I still walked in to see how beautiful the room looked.

The Friday Night Gala when the Jacksons received the Keys to the City and watched the younger local talent acts imitate them – Photographed Ms. Miller’s cell phone-Photocredit by: Montez Miller

I talked with several people who were in attendance and were excited and really enjoyed themselves being that close to the Jacksons. Ms. Montez Miller referred me to her Facebook site and she has beautiful photos.  Others told me they were amazed at the way the Jacksons walked through the crowd talking, shaking hands, and enjoying the tribute to them. I totally regretted missing that event. All I could say was, “Let’s wait for tomorrow.”

Before we attended the concert, we toured around Detroit and were amazed to see how the city is thriving. My friends and I enjoyed looking at all the new sites and observed many changes.

Vicky Keys Powell, Renee Sudderth, Jeanine Orange Jackson and Charlayne Wilson Watkins touring by Comerica Park, the Detroit Tiger’s stadium – Photo Courtesy Renee Sudderth

After our two enjoyable days in the North, it was time to go to the Music Hall Center area where the Jacksons were performing a free outdoor concert. We had purchased the VIP tickets, which was a good choice because our seats were in the third row.

Renee Sudderth posing alone while other friends just look on while walking to the concert – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Renee Sudderth and Ms. Debra Johnson of Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau who saw the Jacksons’ concert and said “I loved it, Marlon took my heart, they really showed out and were getting down” – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Everyone was excited.  Some people brought out their old Jackson 5/Jacksons/Michael Jackson memorabilia. I loved it.

True Jacksons fans – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Renee Sudderth and Retired Boxing Legend, Tommy “Hitman” Hearns poses just before the Jacksons take the stage – Photo Courtesy and Copyright of Gary Hunter, former President Obama’s photographer

Once, the Jacksons hit the stage with their signature sunglasses, the fans of all nationalities, and ages, were screaming, hollering, jumping around, and snapping photos. I may not be a teenager anymore, but when my Jacksons hit the stage, I reverted back to those teenager years. When they twirled around and slipped into “I Want You Back” which was their first No. 1 Hit in 1969, I was so overcome with emotions, I started crying. On “The Love You Save” Jeanine, Vicky and I just looked at each other and hollered because that’s the song Jeanine and I became the Jackson 2 many years ago.

I couldn’t get over how well groomed they looked, their perfect body frames, their energy, the hard dancing they did for 75 minutes knowing their ages ranged from 61 – 67. The Jacksons actually performed like they were still in their 20’s –AMAZING! It just made me holler more!!!

The Jackson’s Signature Moves that had us screaming- Photo Courtesy of Jeanine Jackson
Papa Joe and Mother Katherine’s sons still got their groove – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
The Jacksons still getting down despite their ages (61 – 67) – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Several times I thought Jermaine was looking at me, especially when I pointed at him and he pointed back at me. You know I was dazed after that, while standing on the third row, because I can’t recall sitting down. Vicky, Jeanine, and I would look at each other in amazement.

Jeanine Jackson, a Jackson fan for almost 50 years – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

I was just so proud of the Jacksons singing all their songs and their beloved brother, the late Michael Jackson’s songs. Michael may not have been on stage but his spirit was with his brothers and fans. Sadly, the video screen did not work properly. Therefore, we didn’t get to see the video coverage of Michael’s life and other special family moments but we were still able to see the beautiful fireworks in the sky while the Jacksons continued to perform.

The Fabulous Jacksons – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

I was sad when it was time for them to leave the stage. I had told everyone, I was going to get backstage and they believed me. Well, I did make it back stage just to see the Jacksons’ big, black SUV limo pulling off!! I assumed they were going straight to the hotel to go to bed since they performed so vigorously. Yes, my feelings were so hurt, I missed them!!  My crew and I walked around reminiscing about the concert, and talking to other fans.

The Jacksons saluting us – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Finally, we were passing the Music Hall Center Entrance, preparing to walk to our car when we heard police sirens blaring around the corner. I looked and there was the same black SUV limo I had seen 30 minutes earlier!!!  I stood there with my mouth opened because I knew it was the Jacksons. I was so hurt because I missed them again!!!!

My hurt eased up a little when seconds later I ran into Ms. Starr, the President of the Jackson’s Fan Club for almost 50 years. We talked, laughed, and she gave me her business card, which has a picture of her and the Jackson’s mother on the front. She said the Jacksons just left after meeting with her and others after the concert in Greektown, down the street from the Music Hall Center. Again, I was hurt but listening to her story she made me happy.

The Jacksons and their Fan Club with President Starr dressed in white who created this almost 50 years ago and created the Jackson Dolls Production – Photo Courtesy of Ms. Starr

Since then, we have talked and I will have to follow up with another article about her starting the Jackson’s Fan Club, which has been in existence since 1971. I remember in The Jacksons: An American Dream, TV movie (1992) there was a scene with Mother Katherine, Sister LaToya, and fans talking in the Jackson’s living room. I thought it was Starr and the fan club but she says that was not their scene in the movie. Anyway, stay tuned for more information on the Jackson’s Fan Club and Ms. Starr.

On Sunday, June 17, Father’s Day, my friends and I visited the captivating Motown Records Museum where the Jackson 5 got their start 50 years ago. While we were there, they played all Jackson music outside.  I knew it was their tribute to the Jacksons this weekend in Detroit. Motown said they were hoping the Jacksons would stop by. Motown is a MUST place to visit seeing how Berry Gordy Jr., started in this house and made it into a multi-billion corporation bringing artists from the projects to the lime-light and finally, Hollywood. Next year, the Motown family will be celebrating Mr. Gordy’s 90th  birthday and I probably will be there too.

The Jackson 2 (Jeanine Jackson and Renee Sudderth) with another Motown Act and the Four Tops – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

I am so grateful I could share this weekend with true Jackson friends and fans. I won’t forget this special night watching my childhood singing group still performing at the top of their game. I thank the Jacksons for standing the test of time. Yes, your family has grown tremendously but you still have the ambition, discipline and strength from Father Joe and Mother Katherine.

Everyone knows Father Joe (will be 90 years old on July 26) was a strict disciplinarian when raising his own family but he learned that at an early age because he was the oldest of his five siblings. His parents divorced early in his life so he had to quickly take responsibility over his siblings.  He made sure his sons and daughters became who they are today with his wife Katherine. Everything may not be perfect but what earthly family is. I have to say, “Thank you Jacksons for being true, die hard entertainers for life. I love you and may God continue to bless and shine on you.

Thank You Jacksons for an Unforgettable, Memorable, Beautiful, Outdoor Concert – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Along with Detroit, I honor you with this second Splash Magazine article I have written about you and how my friends shared this special Detroit Musical Weekend with us.  My first Splash Magazine article was 6 years ago when you performed at the historic Apollo Theater in New York. I was there to capture it and now I was in Detroit to capture this!!! What an honor!!!!”


  1. JOHN DENSON, June 28, 2018 – via EMAIL – Very nice! Sounds like a great time had by all. Don’t feel bad about the backstage stuff, I’ve heard the same thing from a few friends that have been lucky enough to get back there, only to find the talent has already left the building. And jealous you got the photo with the “Hitman”! Great job as always my dear! Keep up the good work! I applaud you.

  2. Looks like fun, glad you ladies enjoyed! My aunt Vicky told me she had a blast reliving the old memories!

  3. DEBRA JOHNSON, June 25, 2018, via TEXT – LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!! You carried us readers thru the entire weekend! Great Pictures!

  4. CATHY BURROWS, June 25, 2018 – via TEXT – Your article is ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING. Somehow, you manage to take it up a notch each time. Absolutely gorgeous pictures, more history and insight. Your blue and yellow outfits burst off the pages. ALL the pictures were exceptional. HOW WONDERFUL to see those brothers staying together, working together in their 60’s. Today, we hear so much negative I think that is why I THOROUGHLY ENJOY each one of YOUR PIECES. You UPLIFT, ENCOURAGE, ENLIGHTEN, EDUCATE, EXPOSE, EXPOUND on the good and great. You make us proud to be African Americans. BRAVO!! AND I AM SO AMAZED with you and Ms. Jeanine Orange Jackson

  5. CAROLINE TATE, June 25, 2018 – via EMAIL and PHONE – Renee, This is a great article. You did an awesome job. You made us feel like we were with you in Detroit.

  6. BRENDA GOLDEN, June 25, 2018 – in PERSON – I really enjoyed your article. You made us feel like we were right there on your journey with you.

  7. DEBORAH BRONNER Phd, June 25, 2018 – via FACEBOOK – Well don’t you look pretty!! Go Girl!!

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