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Students audition to solo in Gary schools program honoring Katherine Jackson

Gary resident Judah Coleman 10 tries out his best Michael Jacksmoves Saturday as he auditions for lead singer an upcoming

Gary resident Judah Coleman, 10, tries out his best Michael Jackson moves on Saturday as he auditions for lead singer in an upcoming documentary on Michael Jackson on Saturday at West Side High School in Gary. | Kyle Telechan/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 18, 2014 6:21AM



GARY — Of six people trying out for the soloist part during the Gary Community School Corp.’s presentation to Jackson family matriarch Katherine at the end of the month, three of them were Colemans: Markeysha, 16; Dwayne, 14, and Judah, 10.

And if any one of them gets it, the other two will be thrilled to death

“We all like each other,” Markeysha said of her siblings.

The Thea Bowman Academy students auditioned for the program, set to honor Katherine and her contributions to Roosevelt High School and the community, Saturday afternoon at West Side STEM Academy. The corporation’s All-City Choir will perform.

Katherine Jackson’s heart always has remained in the city, said Deborah Chang, a Los Angeles-based attorney for the woman.

“She always wants to inspire kids,” Chang said. “They want to show that people should never give up, because Michael (Jackson) made every one of his dreams come true here.”

Chang had the chance to talk to Michael Jackson’s elementary school principal, Gladys Johnson, and saw just how strong the Jackson influence carries through.

“She told the cutest stories,” Chang said. “One of them was how Michael wanted to raise money for the school, so he told Mrs. Johnson that he and his brothers were going to perform a show and charge 10 cents a head.

Mrs. Johnson told him he’d better do his math on that, and Michael told her, ‘I’m going to be so famous, someone will do my math for me!’ And he was right.”

GCSC Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said the program will be a thanks to the Jackson family for their efforts in cleaning up Roosevelt and the surrounding community. The Jacksons grew up less than an eighth of a mile from the high school.

West Side student Erik Jacob Jax, 17, performed Maxwell hit “Pretty Wings” for the judges. A major fan of Jackson, he said he would love to earn the soloist spot.

“It would be an honor for me to honor him,” Erik said before wowing the judges.

Hadiya Pugh, 18 and a Bowman student, told the judges she thinks more of MJ’s music needs to be heard. As for his signature dance moves, they need to be seen as well, only she wouldn’t be the one to do them.

“Uh ... no,” Pugh said when asked if she could do any Michael Jackson moves.



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