‘Britain’s Got Talent’ Finalist Shaheen Jafargholi Sings At Michael Jackson Tribute

The 12-year-old, who toured with ‘Thriller Live,’ performed ‘Who’s Lovin’ You.’
By Eric Ditzian

Shaheen Jafargholi performs at the Michael Jackson public memorial service held at Staples Center on Tuesday in Los Angeles, California

Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Young Michael Jackson protege Shaheen Jafargholi sings for Michael at his memorial and blows the crowds’ socks off. We sit down with Shaheen to learn about his experience singing Michael’s rendition of Who’s Loving You.

Michael Jackson’s public memorial service showcased musicians of all ages, from MJ’s older brother Jermaine to Jennifer Hudson and Usher. But the youngest of the entire event was 12-year-old Shaheen Jafargholi, performing a cover of the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Lovin’ You.”

While Jafargholi is not well known in America, he rocketed to fame in the U.K. earlier this year when he competed on “Britain’s Got Talent” shortly after Susan Boyle made headlines with her performance on the show. During his first audition, he sang Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” but was quickly cut off by judge Simon Cowell, who dismissed the song choice. Jafargholi then jumped into “Who’s Lovin’ You,” wowing the audience and launching himself into the finals of the show. He eventually lost to the dance group Diversity.

But the King of Pop took notice and invited Jafargholi to take part in his upcoming concerts at London’s O2 Arena, as the director Kenny Ortega told the crowd during the memorial tribute. Of course, Jackson passed away before the sold-out 50-show stand could begin.

Minutes before Jafargholi took the stage, Smokey Robinson, who wrote “Who’s Lovin’ You,” told a funny story about being unable to believe that Michael was just 10 years old when he pulled off a mature rendition of the song in 1969. Then Jafargholi sang that very song for a worldwide television audience estimated to number 1 billion people.

Even before his appearance on “Britain’s Got Talent,” Jafargholi had a connection with MJ: He played a young Jackson while touring the U.K. with a musical tribute show called “Thriller Live.” He’s also appeared on several British TV shows, such as the BBC’s “Torchwood.”

Before ceding the stage to Jafargholi, Robinson spoke directly to Jackson. “I love you. my brother. I celebrate your life, and I’m glad I had the pleasure to know you,” he said.

And right after his performance, Jafargholi spoke of his love and respect for MJ and his music.

For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit “Michael Jackson Remembered.”

Share your Michael Jackson memories by uploading video and comments to Your.MTV.com or joining the discussion below.

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‘America’s Got Talent’ looking for its own Susan Boyle

This season, the most important contestant for “America‚Äôs Got Talent|shows|site” isn’t competing on the show. She doesn’t even live in America.

Susan Boyle is the frumpy, 48-year-old Scottish singer who rocketed from obscurity to international celebrity after surprising judges with her assured performance this spring on “Britain’s Got Talent.” Now the question is whether Boylemania will boost the popularity of “America’s Got Talent,” NBC’s sister program, which starts its fourth season on Tuesday. Both the American and U.K. versions are made by the same company, FremantleMedia.

Executives are already counting on Boyle, who was the eventual runner-up on “Britain’s Got Talent.” One NBC promo starts with a shot of her singing on the British show — a video seen by tens of millions of viewers online — while a voice-over says, “This June, the international sensation comes home to America.” Viewers might need a second or two to register that the “sensation” being referred to is the “Got Talent” format, not Boyle.

susan-boyleCalling her “the television equivalent of Viagra,” Piers Morgan, a judge on both the British and American versions of “Got Talent,” says the producers are giving “serious consideration” to having Boyle appear in some fashion on the U.S. show.

“In terms of the potential effect she could have on ratings, the British show jumped nearly 50% because of Susan,” Morgan said in an interview. “And I believe the American show could do the same.” NBC’s Season 3 premiere last June drew 12.9 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Simon Cowell, the “American Idol” judge who created the “Got Talent” format, told reporters in April that the show was a “sleeping giant” and that Boyle could help the program double or triple its ratings this season.

But some analysts are skeptical about whether “America’s Got Talent” will see any long-term benefit from Boyle, a plain-looking, very shy woman who stunned judges with her powerful voice. Whether the show can find American contestants with similarly compelling back stories is an open question. In its first three seasons, none of the “America’s Got Talent” contestants sparked anything even close to Boyle’s wildfire popularity.

“It’s unlikely the show will be able to create talent again the way they did with ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and Susan Boyle,” said John Rash, of the Minneapolis ad firm Campbell-Mithun.

But that won’t stop NBC and Fremantle from trying. The network is heavily promoting a family act who told the judges during taped auditions earlier this spring that they began rehearsing as singers after their mother was paralyzed from a head-on auto collision with a drunk driver. Their contest song? “God Bless America.”

“I think a lot of viewers would turn up for ‘America’s Got Talent’ with or without the Susan Boyle phenomenon,” said Paul Telegdy, NBC’s new reality programming chief. “We have had our own phenomenon come out of the show. I remind people that Terry Fater is the most-paid reality show contestant of all time.” Fater is the ventriloquist/comedian/impersonator who won the $1 million top prize in 2007 and has a multimillion-dollar deal performing at the Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip.

By Scott Collins and Maria Elena Fernandez | CONTINUE READING TO THE LA TIMES News story…