Michael Jackson's Robert Burns songs to be released
Singer's collection of showtunes inspired by Burns's poetry could be donated to a Scottish museum
A Scottish museum may soon be home to one of Michael Jackson's unreleased albums. More than a decade after Jackson and David Gest recorded songs based on the poetry of Robert Burns, Gest reportedly intends to donate the recordings to the poet's official museum in Ayrshire.
In a career of peculiar projects, it remains one of the singer's strangest: a collection of showtunes inspired by Burns's life and work. The songs have never been made public – it was either overlooked or forgotten in the Jackson estate's search for unreleased material.
Now, after a visit to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Gest has reportedly agreed to donate Jackson's most Scottish songs. "[David] offered to look them out and provide copies [for us]," museum director Nat Edwards told the List. The museum hopes to "produce some sort of CD", as a fundraiser. "[It would] be a way of getting audiences interested in Burns and illustrating his international, enduring artistic legacy," Edwards said.
Gest explained in a recent TV documentary for BBC Alba that he and Jackson were Burns fanatics. "I said to Michael, let's do a play [based on] Burns's life and he said he would help me with the music." Jackson ended up hiring musicians and borrowing the studio at the Jackson family home in Encino, California. "Michael believed in the project so much," Gest said. "We took about eight or 10 of Burns's poems and put them to contemporary music, such as A Red Red Rose, Ae Fond Kiss and the story of Tam O'Shanter."
Although the collaboration was first revealed in 2008, it seems to have taken place in the late 80s. They originally intended to stage a musical, Gest said, produced by actor Anthony Perkins and directed by Gene Kelly. Plans were scuppered after Perkins's death in 1992. Kelly died in 1996. That year, Gest premiered a play based on Burns's life, Red Red Rose.
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Thanks to the Guardian for this story.