On Friday, August 31, 2018 one day before the Legendary Jacksons would perform for many at the newly opened Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on the Atlantic City, New Jersey,’s historic Boardwalk, many others gathered to say farewell to Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul” in Detroit, Michigan. I would have loved giving my last “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” to her in Detroit, but I could not be in two places at the same time. I had prearranged to meet Starr Hayes and her daughter, Tracee Hayes of Jackson Doll Productions (JDP), to watch the Jacksons in concert, interview them, and make my long-time dream come true.
My three previous Splash Magazine articles on the Jacksons led me to this “dream come true” journey to Atlantic City because of God and Him using Starr. In June 2018, when the Jacksons performed a beautiful, and memorable, outdoor concert in Detroit, I was blessed to meet Starr. Then, in July 2018, I shared Starr’s intriguing life story as the President of this fan club/charitable organization that has survived for almost 50 years and gives service back to many communities. She told about her exciting life with the Jackson Family including the family’s two beloved deceased family members, Mr. Joseph Jackson and Michael Jackson.
Prior to this article, “A Concert and Interview With The Legendary Jacksons – A Dream Comes True” was published to offer Splash Magazine Worldwide readers an in-depth story of the Jacksons’ concert and interview. The interview was conducted by the dynamic duo of Starr and Renee, while Tracee video recorded this great interview. The excitement prior and after the musical dynasty concert and interview was breath taking.
The day before we were going to meet the Jacksons on Saturday, Starr called me while I was in my room to say, “It’s time to come organize the gift bags”. We wanted to make sure all the carefully selected items in the gift bags we prepared for the Jacksons were properly in placed before we gave it to them. As soon as I walked into Starr and Tracee’s room, I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion, and tears. On the table, I saw four individual photo frames lined up with each Jackson son (Marlon, Jermaine, Tito, Jackie) posing individually with their father, the late Joseph Jackson who passed two months ago (June 27, 2018). It took me several minutes to get myself together.
In that precious moment, Starr placed on me my official “Jackson Doll” sash that the “Jackson Dolls” wear with class, grace, elegance, dignity and prestige because we represent the Jacksons. Filled with deep feelings, we finally completed our mission before Saturday, the big day.
The next day, this new Jackson Doll, woke up thanking God again for this exciting once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, I was still nervous knowing I was going to meet The Jacksons and interview them after their concert. I called my father and his words of wisdom were “Be Strong and Be Yourself”.
Also, I thought about what my childhood friend/National Basketball Association (NBA) Assistant Coach-Sacramento Kings Elston Turner said to me when I told him the exciting news last month. I shared with him that I have loved and admired the Jacksons since I was 10, and now, unbelievably, I’m preparing to interview them and I’m not sure how emotional I will become. Elston’s best words were, “Renee, all my life I dreamed of playing in the NBA and admired many of the players. My opportunity to play with the greats had finally come so I had to make a decision—go back to the locker room or stay out on the court and do my job”. After almost 40 years being a NBA-Player/Coach, I guess he didn’t go back to the locker room and that’s what I kept in mind in preparing for my interview with the high-profile major league Jacksons!!!
Finally, the time had come for the Jackson Dolls to make our grand entry into the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to see the Jacksons perform their concert.
Prior to the concert’s starting time, Starr, Tracee and I had a great time filming, talking and laughing with the Jacksons’ fans with their memorabilia and wearing their Jackson 5/Jacksons/Michael Jackson’s apparel.
The concert was filled with excitement and emotional times especially when Jermaine Jackson gave a special tribute by singing “Gone Too Soon” for his beloved brother, the late Michael Jackson. This was beautifully done while photos appeared on the big screens.
Yes, the interview was a success and it was truly a blessing listening to the brothers share their careers and lives with us!
As we said our goodbyes, I mentioned to Jackie that I retired two years ago from the Air Force after 33 years. He was amazed and said “Marlon; she retired from the military after 33 years.” Marlon looked with glee and then he slapped a HIGH FIVE with me!!! That right there was a defining moment for me! Marlon and Jackie of The Jacksons had given me the stamp of approval of my career. Most may not understand how that jester made me feel. After serving my country for all those years you are bound to have your share of ups and downs in a career. The Jacksons’ validation help soothe the rough parts of my career and emotionally I will never forget that feeling and how they “saluted” me.
After the great interview, we left the Jacksons, and were passing through the Resort Casino when we heard the DJ playing Techno, great dancing music. The Jackson Dolls thought we were walking in there to celebrate the Jacksons’ amazing concert and dance to two songs but we ended up dancing to about 15 songs and taking photos with others. The DJ played a total of 4 Jacksons’ songs consecutively and we really danced hard and the crowd was cheering for us like we were superstars. After our performance, the Jackson Dolls jokingly said the Jacksons performed their concert and we performed our “after party” concert. The DJ said the club had never been that hyped and he really enjoyed himself too and he thanked us. Not only did he give a tribute to the Jacksons but he saluted Aretha Franklin and acknowledged Detroit since this was her weekend the world said farewell.
As I “Remember The Times” of this great weekend having dual roles as a Splash Magazine Photojournalist and the newest Jacksons Doll, I will always be grateful to God Almighty, Starr, Jackson Doll Productions, the Jacksons’ Management and the Legendary Jacksons for making this one of the most memorable moments in my life.
Starr and Tracee agreed this was an unforgettable and emotional weekend spent with the Jacksons. To know the Jackson Doll Productions will continue with their mission, is very uplifting.
Starr as the President/Executive Director of JDP, and being with the Jacksons family since August 1971 says, “As I look back at my journey, tears begin to fall because I’m so grateful and thankful to God. I realize I am the only original member still living and I’m thankful for my other Jackson Doll members, Terri Price, Tracee Hayes, Renee Sudderth and especially Silva Howard for still believing in me as well as my brother Junior, sister Kim for your support and for other members who helped me build my dream and the Jacksons’ Management who are amazing.
I thank the entire Jackson family, Poppa Jackson, Momma Jackson, Reebie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Latoya, Marlon, Randy, Janet Jackson and their next generation for this amazing journey. Most of all, I thank my baby Michael, who I love and misses very much. I look forward to doing more activities for Jackson Doll Productions with projects servicing children, the elderly, the homeless and much more.”