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Beyonce, Ne-Yo Honor Michael Jackson at Tribute Concert

Dave J Hogan, Getty Images

In recent weeks, much of the talk surrounding Michael Jackson has had to do with the iconic singer’s death. Saturday night (Oct. 8) in Cardiff, Wales, friends, family and fans tried to shift the focus back to the King of Pop’s life, ignoring — if only for an evening — the ongoing trial of Conrad Murray, the doctor charged with killing the music legend.

Organized by family matriarch Katherine Jackson, the controversial Michael Forever: The Tribute Concert featured live performances by such pop and R&B luminaries as Ne-Yo, Christina Aguilera, Leona Lewis and Cee Lo Green. Beyonce — introduced by MJ’s three children — sang ‘I Wanna Be Where You Are’ via satellite, proving her fan cred with a non-obvious song selection.

Taking the stage for the first time in two decades, La Toya Jackson honored her brother with two songs, ‘In the Closet’ and ‘Jam,’ the latter featuring a guest rap from Heavy D. The group 3T, comprising three of Michael’s nephews, also offered up a pair of songs, including ‘Why,’ a tune they recorded with their uncle in 1996.

Notably absent were boycotting brothers Randy and Jermaine, who felt the show ought not to take place during the Murray trial, and sister Janet, who said performing would be too painful. Jennifer Hudson and the Black Eyed Peas had also been slated to perform, but they pulled out, citing “major production issues” and “unavoidable circumstances,” respectively.

Singer Chris Brown was reportedly denied a U.K. work visa, due to his criminal record, while organizers booted KISS from the bill, responding to remarks that bassist Gene Simmons made about Jackson following his acquittal on child-molestation charges.

Old-school admirers Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight joined forces for ‘I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,’ while Ne-Yo, who opened the show with ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘The Lady in My Life,’ teamed with various Jacksons and the British boy band JLS for the night’s closing number, ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.’

Watch Beyonce Perform ‘I Wanna Be Where You Are’ at the Michael Jackson Tribute Concert
Watch Michael Jackson’s ‘Behind the Mask’

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