On Thursday, Jermaine Jackson will return to Motown along with his brothers Jackie, Marlon and Tito to launch a nationwide reunion tour of the Jacksons. Jermaine is also promoting a nonmusical, philanthropic business venture—a bottled-water company that promises to use a percentage of its profits to build wells to provide clean water in Ethiopia and Afghanistan—and says that the project is “doing very well.”
One thing with which he’s not as pleased: his late brother’s most recent album. The Root spoke to him about his plans to continue to heal from Michael’s death by reliving the Jackson 5’s Motown days, his philanthropic efforts, and why he’s disappointed that those responsible for Xscape have, as he puts it, “taken Michael Jackson and the whole Jackson legacy and made it just like everything else out there.”
The Root: What most excites you about this tour?
Jermaine Jackson: What excites me about the tour is that we have the chance to play the music—the feel-good music—and see the people react to it. It’s a great feeling, and it makes us want to give more. It’s also healing for us because of the passing of my brother.
TR: What motivated you to become involved with Vitá Water and use part of its proceeds to provide clean water?
JJ: Water is life. It’s life for humans, for plants and nature. Water is going to become a rare commodity and may become pricier than oil. Ours is a premium water, with alkaline and electrolytes straight out of the Sierra Mountains. We are not just a water company—we build wells. We have wells all over the world, including Afghanistan and Ethiopia. We provide clean water to those that don’t have access. We’ve been doing very well, and this has been a part of our family—making sure we give back.
TR: What are your thoughts on Michael’s new album?
JJ: I’m not happy, and the reason … is that Michael was a perfectionist. He set the bar for vocals and performance. To have someone try and emulate that, it’s just not there. I think that they are just putting things out there, and the motivation is not the art. Michael did things because he wanted to do his best and show the world art. He wasn’t focused on money and profit; he was focused on the art and being the best. I’m not happy because … this work they are putting out there is not representative of what he’s done in the past.
They’ve taken Michael Jackson and the whole Jackson legacy and made it just like everything else out there. When a Michael Jackson album came out, you were excited: What are the lyrics going to be? What is the hook going to be? They don’t understand this. It would be like taking a Picasso or a Monet and trying to do what they did, but you don’t understand the drive or thought process that went into it.
What was [Michael] trying to say, what was he trying to tell the public? They don’t understand, and they don’t ask us anything. That’s why I am not happy, because I hear a Michael Jackson record released today that has nothing to do with who we are, who he was … what he was all about and his level of excellency.