Who Is Michael Jackson Memorial Performer Shaheen Jafargholi?

July 7, 2009 3:58 PM ET

He tackled a tough one, delivering a haunting performance of Smokey Robinson's "Who's Lovin' You," a song made famous by the Jackson 5, before a world stage of more than one billion viewers during this afternoon's Michael Jackson memorial service at Los Angeles' Staples Center. But who was that dapper-looking 12-year-old who thanked Jackson "for blessing me and every single individual on this Earth with his amazing music?"

It was Shaheen Jafargholi, a Welsh-Iranian singer from Swansea, Wales, who caught Jackson's eye during the season three finals of the U.K. television hit Britain's Got Talent. (Check out photos from the Jackson memorial here.) The young singer took the stage alongside big names like Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Usher and Mariah Carey. His performance today was a repeat of one he gave during the TV show, and according to reports, Jackson caught a clip of Jafargholi's cover on YouTube. Jackson later asked the young performer to join him during his 50-gig stint at London's O2 Arena, a spate of comeback shows that was slated to launch July 13th.

Jafargholi, who was defeated by a dance group and the now infamous Susan Boyle during the talent series, was personally approached by Jackson's family to sing at the memorial service, according to reports, because they were aware of how impressed Jackson was with his performance.

Before his rise to prominence on Britain's Got Talent, Jafargholi appeared in a couple of television shows on U.K. television, and even toured on stage as a young Michael Jackson in "Thriller — Live."

Wondering who sang "Heal the World" at the end of the ceremony? Check out Judith Hill: "Heal the World" Singer From Jackson Memorial Revealed."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

More Song Stories entries »