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Message from Diana Ross and Mariah Carey's touching performance kick off Michael's memorial

7 July 2009
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It was the highly anticipated moment that Michael Jackson's countless fans worldwide had been waiting for – the star-studded memorial concert to honor the life and achievements of the King of Pop. With millions watching, the tribute was broadcast globally free of charge. Smokey Robinson took to the stage to kick off the proceedings in a venue filled with 20,000 fans, including 9,000 of Michael's friends and family, who hung on the singer's every word as he read out notes of condolence from Nelson Mandela and Diana Ross, who couldn't attend the tribute.

"I want you to know that even though I am not there at the Staples Centre, I am there in my heart," the note from Diana Ross expressed. "Michael was a personal love of mine, a treasured part of my world, part of the fabric of my life in a way that I can't seem to find words to express. Michael wanted me to be there for his children, and I will be there if they ever need me. I hope today brings closure for all those who loved him."

An audio problem momentarily interrupted proceedings, but after a delay of about 20 minutes, a gospel choir took to the stage, singing as Michael's golden casket – adorned with red roses – was brought to the stage. Many details of the tribute had been shrouded in mystery, including its duration and the lineup of speakers and performers.

The first performance came from Mariah Carey, who delivered a moving rendition of Michael's hit "I'll Be There," accompanied by childhood pictures of the singer with The Jackson Five displayed on giant screens behind them. Other performers included Lionel Richie, Usher, and Stevie Wonder. Queen Latifah gave the first eulogy, representing the fans, and expressed, "I loved him all my life. Michael was the biggest star on earth."

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