LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood and Usher will take part in a tribute to Michael Jackson at the Grammy awards next week that will also showcase a movie created by Jackson for his 1995 hit “Earth Song.”
Grammy organizers said on Wednesday that Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson would also join in the Jackson tribute, singing along with the voice of the “Thriller” singer.
The January 31 Grammy ceremony in Los Angeles will also feature the first complete showing of a 3-D mini movie for “Earth Song” created by Jackson before his death in June.
The song and the movie, about the future of the planet, were intended to be the centerpiece of Jackson’s planned series of 50 “This is It” comeback concerts in London last summer.
“It was one of the most important portions of the concert tour to Michael and when Michael saw the film for the first time at his last rehearsal, there were tears in his eyes,” Ken Ehrlich, a longtime Jackson associate and who is producing the Grammy telecast, said in a statement.
Jackson, who won 13 Grammys and whose 1982 album “Thriller” is the biggest-selling album of all time, is to get a posthumous lifetime achievement Grammy this year.
Ehrlich said the five singers would perform along with Jackson’s voice while the 4 1/2 minute film is projected on a screen behind them.
“Each and everyone of (the artists) said they were honored to be asked to do this,” he told reporters.
The “Earth Song” film features a young girl who goes to sleep in a verdant forest and awakes to find it destroyed by environmental changes.
Ehrlich said Grammy organizers had given much thought to how best to remember Jackson, whose last rehearsals were in the same Staples Center arena where the Grammys will be held.
“It just didn’t feel like it was something we should try to do with one those songs you don’t want ever want to see anyone but Michael doing.
“The idea of honoring him by doing something that really meant something to him while he was alive, and now with his passing can continue the message that he wanted to deliver, was really an opportunity we didn’t want to miss,” he said.
Organizers said 3-D glasses will be provided to the Grammy audience in Los Angeles and U.S. TV viewers will be able to get free 3-D glasses through a partnership between broadcasters CBS and retail store Target.
Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy which awards the Grammys, said the Jackson tribute “promises to be an emotional highlight of this year’s show”.
Jackson, 50, died in June of cardiac arrest caused by an overdose of prescription medication and the powerful anesthetic propofol. Los Angeles authorities are still investigating and no-one has been charged in the case.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Dan Whitcomb