Podcast Lounge| Unity: The Latin Tribute To MICHAEL JACKSON

Original Date: 10.18.12

It has been a pleasure writing this post! Long overdue! A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Tony Succar who invited me to review his latest project. I was flattered when he mentioned that he is a fan of my work! Awesome, right?! If you hadn't heard of him, he is a 26-year-old Latin American music producer who is also an accomplished composer, musician (percussionist), arranger, producer and bandleader gaining a reputation in the music community for his talent, creativity and flawless attention to detail. 

I must say when I read my messages and saw his name, I was shocked. I've definitely seen his name quite a few times in the jazz scene among other things. 

Now, everyone knows that I LOVE Michael Jackson!!! I always will. I was super excited to hear and read more about this awesome project. UNITY, as we all know Michael was all about that! From my favorite singles, "Black or White", "Heal The World",  to "Earth Song", he always wanted togetherness. 

The UNITY album, which includes 14 of Michael Jackson’s most popular tracks arranged and produced by Succar, and played by over 80 professional musicians and 9 internationally known singers. You may be familiar with them: Tito NievesLa IndiaObie BermúdezJennifer PeñaMichael StuartKevin Ceballo, and more. UNITY has been in production for over three years, It's taken three years of production and recording at studios in Miami, Orlando, Houston, New York City, and Puerto Rico. 

Tony gave me a listen to their re-make of MJ's, "I Want You Back" featuring "I Like It Like That" latin salsa sensation, Tito Nieves... absolutely loved it! The single hit #1 on the DJ's Latinos Record Pool, latin Music Charts, one of the most prestigious latin record pools in the United States! Since then, a second release has come along. "No Me Amas (Blame It On he Boogie)" featuring Michael Stuart, another favorite of mines! You can definitely feel the rhythm of pure Latin/Tropical fusion indeed! 

I'm glad this project stayed true to Michael's artistic integrity. Great way to blend Hispanic and American music into one classic bundle of genre.  You wouldn't think that Succar started this project independently. He mentioned to me that he indeed had to raise money on his own and go through the process of getting the artists, licensing, and all those things all to stay true to this tribute . 

He is definitely a determined individual and it is paying off tremendously! Only a very passionate MJ fan can pull off such a great project! Great job, Tony! 

Tony Succar
Of course, I had to interview Tony Succar and get just a bit more information. Check it out. 

1. Where did the idea of the Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson originate?

I came up with the concept over two years ago. It was a series of events that lead me on to creating this project. When Michael passed away three years ago, just like many MJ fans around the world, I sat in disbelief, dumbfounded, experiencing one of the saddest moments in my life. A couple of months after his passing, I felt an unquenchable urge to pay homage to Michael’s legacy. I had no idea what I was going to do, or how I was going to do it; I simply knew I needed to follow my heart. Happens to be that in October of 2009 I got a call from an agent that hires my band, his name is Randy Singer, wanted to put together a Halloween party for a local club on South Beach. 

He had the idea of making a THRILLER theme costume party, everyone looking like zombies and all… Make a long story short, the band I had at the time was a strict salsa band, we played some other styles, but very few, mainly salsa. Randy wanted to me to perform THRILLER for that night… so I went ahead and got the idea of making a salsa arrangement to THRILLER so we can perform it live. When I sat down and wrote that arrangement, performed it, and saw how much the people went crazy for it… that’s when it all began…

I finally discovered what I could do for Michael, his legacy, his music, and his messages. My goal with paying tribute was to embody Michael’s essence by focusing this Tribute on his message of UNITY. UNITY is something that I saw in his lyrics, his music, in his dance, and his way of being. He always looked out to unite people, unite cultures, and unite talent. I wanted to expand on his message by interpreting his music in a new way; in a way where I express myself fully, because expression is in my Latin DNA. This way it would result into something new, hoping that I could continue the legacy and show the world how he influenced me and how important he still is to all of us.
2. Tell my readers more about the Unity Project. How did you decide on the participants to come together for this wonderful assignment?
There are more than 90 musicians on board along with 8 artists. I recorded in many different studios pretty scattered over the map actually, starting with my hometown Miami, to Peru, to New York, to Texas… etc… So a lot of the musicians that came on board I didn’t know personally, but I did know of them. I chose them wisely, according to the styles that they play, how they play… in order to get the sound that I was looking for. Each musician has his or her own unique sound and feel, that’s what makes producing so interesting. I had very specific sounds that I would hear in my head, so I had choose the right studio musicians that could execute them. It was a whole lot of research J That’s why I had to travel so much as well… they weren’t all located here in Miami. Most of them were though, and they are my buddies! There’s nothing like recording with friends, it’s always a blast! 

The aritsts on the other hand, that was a surprise… I had no contact with the artists at first, had no way in getting contact with them. I actually would write weekly emails to artist managers to see if the artists would be interested in a project like this, I would never get a response. The first response I received was from Kevin Ceballo, that was a true blessing. After him, the word kept spreading, and it got to Michael Stuart and Tito Nieves.. then after that it was a domino effect. True blessing from God… Most of the artists say that they were skeptical about this MJ project, because they couldn’t imagine covering Michael’s tunes, especially with this latin feel… but they said once they heard the music, that was what sold it. 

Again, Working with these artists has been a true blessing from God. First of all, I am a fan of their music and their talent. I’ve always looked up to them, and I still do. I grew up listening to their music, each and everyone of them influenced my musical career during my upbringing. I never thought I’d be able to collaborate with them, especially at such a young age.
Recording in the studio with them was a thrilling experience. Not only is their talent above and beyond, but most importantly, the passion and emotion they put towards their profession is what makes them unique. I learned a whole lot from them.

The most amazing part of working with these artists is that I could get to know them personally and become their friends. All of them are wonderful human beings, they are extremely humble… that’s the beauty about this project. We are all humble, we all share that same passion for Michael Jackson, for his message, for his legacy. We never thought selfishly about ourselves, this was all about the music, all about working as a team, all about giving and delivering the best of our abilities to make this amazing project come to life.  
3. Where can my readers find you on the web? I have plenty of MJ lovers that would appreciate the work you're doing!
You can find me in Miami, FL… so if you’re ever in town ! let me know! 

Follow me here: 
Follow the project here:
It was an honor! I'm glad I had the opportunity to be apart of sharing this experience with others! Please share with fellow MJ and Latin music lovers you know! I know I will! UNITY will be released in Spring 2013!! 

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