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Who’s Bad bandGroup upholding Jackson’s legacy

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One of the greatest entertainers of all time was lost when Indiana’s own Michael Jackson passed away from the world stage.

Fans who had come to admire and love Jackson struggled to come to terms with the fact that there would be no more exciting concerts, albums or humanitarian efforts from the King of Pop to help make the world a better place.

Fortunately, many of the artists that Jackson inspired are dedicated to keeping his legacy alive by performing his music.

Who’s Bad, a Michael Jackson tribute band, will take guests down memory lane when they appear in Indianapolis at The Vogue next week.

The group will perform songs ranging from the Jackson Five era such as 1970s “ABC” and Jackson solo favorites like “Billie Jean” (1982), to his last major hit, 2001’s “You Rock My World.”

“With Michael Jackson gone, Who’s Bad is, right now, the closest thing to hearing and seeing him perform,” claims Vamsi Tadepalli, the band’s leader. “We only seek to keep those memories alive.”

Formed in 2004, the seven-member group from North Carolina grew up listening to Jackson’s classics, and borrowed its name from a question he asks in his 1987 hit “Bad.” After impressing local audiences, the band took its act to venues across the country and built a national reputation strong enough that its members could build their careers on it.

Shortly after its Indianapolis visit, Who’s Bad will perform in Bloomington, then embark on a tour of the United Kingdom and Europe.

Known for its exciting stage presence and realistic representation of Jackson’s musical career, the group is devoted to offering an authentic show, complete with ’80s regalia such as glitzy jackets and gloves, synchronized dance routines, two singers who alternate between costume changes and live music with a precise rhythm section and horn instruments.

“It’s really fun for us because people get so excited. The energy is infectious, and we really enjoy connecting with the audience,” said Taalib York, one of two singers who portray Jackson. “But I don’t look at it as if I’m being idolized, just that the crowd loves Michael – and it only lets me further know how much Michael was an amazing person.”

Tadepalli, who is also the group’s saxophonist and a dancer, said he and his band mates were shocked along with everyone else when Jackson died suddenly in June of last year.

“When I first started this group, it never even crossed my mind to wonder what would happen if Michael Jackson died while we were still performing. We thought we would be done before he was,” Tadepalli stated. “His death was hard to process, but as soon as he passed, our telephones were blowing up. Our booking agent was on the phone all day.”

Of course, everyone knows that Jackson impersonators and tributes are as plentiful as the stars in the sky. However, many reviewers who have seen Who’s Bad say it is not an amateur garage band performing songs karaoke style.

“This is an infectious party production that takes audiences on a musical expedition spanning three decades. It is an electrifying revival of Michael Jackson’s greatest songs,” said Chris Lee, who writes entertainment reviews for the Los Angeles Times. “Everything is delivered with a precision that could only be superseded by the King himself.”

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