Mary J. Blige rejects claim she will perform at Tribute

Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige
Controversy regarding the upcoming Michael Jackson tribute concert is continuing as it emerged Mary J. Blige will not perform. Karynne Tencer, a spokeswoman for the American singer, said today (Thurs): "Mary J. Blige would have loved to be part of it but she has other obligations on that day."

Reports have it Blige is to attend a fashion show in Italy that night.

Organisers of the event, taking place on 26 September in front of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace, presented Bilge as the line-up’s headliner. And they dismissed rumours about performances of Madonna and U2, stressing these names were only mentioned in speculations carried on by journalists.

It meanwhile also emerged that Chris Brown is unlikely to perform as well. The US rapper was slapped a five-year suspended sentence and 180 days of charitable work for beating up his ex-girlfriend and singer Rihanna.

Tribute initiator and former “Jackson Five” member Jermaine Jackson is now reportedly trying to engage singer Stevie Wonder who also performed at the Michael Jackson commemoration in Los Angeles in July.

Speaking in London yesterday, Jackson said R’n’B singer R. Kelly and pop band Maroon 5 may also perform in Vienna, but stressed no contracts were signed yet. Jackson broke out in tears during the press conference, saying: “It is so hard to wake up the mourning and take care of his legacy at the same time.”

American singers Angela Bassett and Natalie Cole, rapper Akon, the band Sister Sledge and boygroup US5 were announced as performers for the event in Vienna later this month.

Asked by Austrian journalists at Tuesday’s press conference taking place at the City Hall whether really big names would also be added to the bill at some point, Jermaine Jackson replied: “I don’t understand this question. They are all big stars.”

Michael Jackson’s three children and his mother, who currently has preliminary custody of them, are also expected to attend the event.

Organisers have been criticised for high ticket prices which range between 63 and 518 Euros, while city council opposition parties are furious about a 600,000-Euro subsidy by the ruling Social Democrats (SPÖ) for the event.

“This is an imperial subsidy,” Vienna Greens culture spokesman Marie Ringler said. “Will concerts of Britney Spears and Lady Gaga also be supported with such sums from now on?,” she asked.

By Thomas Hochwarter

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