Jason Malachi is at the heart of a dispute regarding whether three songs in Michael Jackson’s first posthumous album were actually sung by Jackson or by Malachi impersonating him. In oral arguments for an appeal hearing, Sony Music appeared to admit that the Jackson songs were actually performed by Malachi. But now Sony is saying that they never admitted the songs were not by Jackson himself, and other lawyers involved in the case have said any statements were just speculative and part of the appeal process. Malachi, meanwhile, has an active career and is helping his daughter launch her own musical career.
Here is what you need to know about Jason Malachi and what happened.
1. Sony Representatives Say They Never Conceded the Songs Were Not by Michael Jackson
Multiple news sources reported on August 23 that in appeal court proceedings, Sony appeared to admit that three Michael Jackson songs released in Michael Jackson’s first posthumous album in 2010, called Michael, were actually sung by Jason Malachi. The songs are “Breaking News,” “Keep Your Head Up,” and “Monster,” EDM reported. The album debuted at number 3 and was released by Sony Music Entertainment and Epic Records. One of the contested songs is above.
However, Sony Music said in an statement on August 24 that they never conceded the songs were fake, Variety reported.
Bryan Freedman, who represents other defendants in the case, explained to Variety that when arguing a motion on appeal, you make the arguments with the assumption that everything in the complaint is true. This isn’t an actual concession that the assumptions are true, however, but a method for that particular stage in the trial.
“When you review the motion on appeal, you assume that everything in the complaint is true. Any admission that was made was for purposes of that argument only.”
Sources told Variety that people who attended the hearing on Tuesday were relying on a statement by an attorney for Jackson’s estate, who said something about what would happen “even if the vocals weren’t Jackson.” They said the attorney’s comment was speculative, not an admission.
Zia Modabber of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, representing Sony and the Jackson estate, said: “No one has conceded that Michael Jackson did not sing on the songs. The hearing Tuesday was about whether the First Amendment protects Sony Music and the Estate and there has been no ruling on the issue of whose voice is on the recordings.”
Here are the two other disputed songs:
From the beginning, there were questions about the authenticity of the songs, Vulture reported. Fan Vera Serova brought a class action lawsuit against Eddie Cascio (a friend of Jackson’s), Angelikson Productions LLC, and James Porte, songwriter, to get at the truth. Cascio and Porte said the songs were recorded in 2007, but had no evidence to back up those claims. Forensic audiologist Dr. George Papcun studied the songs and in a 41-page report said they were not Jackson’s, EDM reported.
In 2016, Sony said they took Cascio and Porte’s word that the songs were authentic without investigating on their own, EDM reported. But in a statement in 2010, Sony said: “We have complete confidence in the results of our extensive research as well as the accounts of those who were in the studio with Michael that the vocals on the new album are his own.”
So the actual authenticity of the songs is still not known.
2. Malachi Fooled People Into Believing One of His Songs Was Michael Jackson’s in 2007. In 2011, Someone Posted on His Facebook that He Was on the Posthumous Album, But He Later Said He Was Hacked
In September 2007, Jason Malachi released a song called Mamacita (listen to it above) that fooled many people, including a Pittsburgh radio station, into believing it was a song by Michael Jackson, TMZ reported. TMZ at the time said he sounded exactly like Michael Jackson.
Then in 2011, TMZ reported that Malachi shared on Facebook that he was the singer behind Breaking News, Keep Your Head Up, Monster, and Stay — songs on Jackson’s posthumous album. A post on his Facebook page read: “Sheesh guys, I guess it’s time to confess. I’ve lied to many people, including someone today, but…. It was me. It was me who sang Breaking News, Keep Your Head Up, Monster and Stay. I had a agreement with the record company, but now the cat is out of the bag. Sorry to all my fans, and fellow Michael Jackson fans.” (The post is no longer published.)
But later that day, Malachi returned to Facebook and said his Facebook account had been hacked and he hadn’t written the post, Spin noted. Malachi’s manager also denied in 2011 that Malachi sang any of those songs, Variety reported.
3. Malachi Released His First Album in 2003, & Has Said Michael Jackson Was His Greatest Musical Influence
Malachi is well known for his 2010 album Critical, which many have said sounds very similar to Michael Jackson, Last.Fm reported. You can listen to his tracks from Critical on Myspace here. The one above is called Let Me Go. Songs on his album Critical include Room 2 Breathe, Everything to Me, How I Do, Runner Up, and more. He has 11 songs on the album. He released his very first album, Tell It Like It Is, in 2003.
His song, A Hero Fell, was number one in the Netherlands for four consecutive weeks, according to his website.
He also released a Christian pop/rock album in 2014 called Come Home.
This is my new official Twitter account; Look out for the launch of my debut Christian pop / rock album “Come Home”— Jason Malachi (@JasonMalachiUS) February 27, 2014
Malachi is currently working on a new Pop/R&B Album. One of his more recent albums, UnReleased, is a mix-tape style album with songs recorded over the last decade, according to his website.
Malachi is so well-known for sounding similar to the King of Pop that he has performed at a number of Michael Jackson tribute events, Last.Fm reported.
In his MySpace bio (which is now published on Last.FM.), Malachi said he was fascinated by the break-dance era and began breakdancing when he was five. “Nothing caught my attention more than watching this anti-gravity like man sliding across stages worldwide. This man by the name of Michael Jackson was like nobody I had ever seen before. He was like a versatile mixture of all my favorite artists… Overall, nobody has influenced me more than Michael Jackson.” His current bio on his official website doesn’t mention Michael Jackson or any of his musical influences.
4. He’s a Fourth-Generation Italian American Who Was Born in Maryland
Malachi is a fourth-generation Italian-American who was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, according to his MySpace bio (which is now published on Last.FM.) His family is originally from Brooklyn, New York.
Malachi graduated from Quince Orchard High School with high honors, his bio noted, and music has always been his passion. In high school, he placed first four years in a row at his school’s annual talent show, and he was voted the best performing artist of his class. He received a scholarship to the Motion Mania Dance School.
Many artists besides Jackson also influenced his music, including Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Boys II Men, N’Sync, R. Kelly, and more.
5. His Daughter Is Also a Musician
Malachi has posted proudly on social media about his daughter, Aliyah, who is also a musician. She recorded a debut single, Dumb, in 2017 with Damon Sharpe, Malachi shared on Twitter.
The single was released in May 2018.
Malachi is currently based in Washington, D.C., according to his website.