Michael Jackson and Akon Had Plans to Open Music Schools Across Africa

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Before his death on June 25, 2009, at the age of 51, Michael Jackson had plans to open universities specializing in music throughout Africa, according to singer Akon, who was working with the king of pop to develop the learning institutions.

Jackson had originally discussed the idea with the singer as a way to find undiscovered talent within the continent by providing the needed facilities and resources to help improve artists’ skills, according to Akon.

“It started off as a concept, me and Michael were speaking about creating music universities across Africa, giving them tools and knowledge of the business, to help them polish up their skills,” said Akon. “Africa’s got so much talent. One of the main motivations for going to Nigeria back then, young artists for Afrobeat and things like this, I was aware of opening the door to create that opportunity.”

Akon, who released his fifth album, Akonda, in 2019, said he would still like to make good on their original plans one day.

“The schools haven’t happened yet,” said Akon. “It’s a conversation we had but it’s something I do want to follow up on. Me personally, if people knew who he was and the stories behind everything, that would be a legacy question—like, do you know what Mike did for culture? It shouldn’t even be a question but ultimately, the powers that be in America work a little different when it comes to black and brown people.”

In 2010, “Hold My Hand,” a duet with Jackson and Akon (written by Kelly Claude and Akon), was released on the posthumous album, Michael Jackson Acapella Archive.

“Me as a friend, my job is to ensure people understand the truth of who he was as a real person,” added Akon, “and whatever I can do to make a difference in people’s thoughts, that’s what I can do.”

Photo: Francis Sylvain/AFP via Getty Images

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