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Jackson speaks out for first time since trial

Singer says trial ‘the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life’
/ Source: The Associated Press

In his first talk with a reporter since the end of his criminal trial, pop superstar Michael Jackson said Saturday he is “moving full speed ahead” on plans to record a song for the benefit of Hurricane Katrina victims and feels that his creative juices are flowing again.

In a telephone call to The Associated Press, Jackson said the trial was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life” and that he and his children were still in Bahrain “resting and recovering” from the ordeal.

Jackson said he has been at work on the charity song, tentatively titled, “From the Bottom of My Heart.”

“I’m constantly working on it,” he said.

Also on the line was Raymone K. Bain, Jackson’s spokeswoman. She said the call would not be a full-fledged interview, and that Jackson just wanted to make contact to express his thanks for what he said was the AP’s fair coverage of his trial.

Jackson has been staying in Bahrain as the guest of Prince Abdulla, the son of the king of Bahrain. Of his friend Prince Abdulla, he said, “He’s the very best, amazing, so kind.”

Asked about his health, Jackson said, “I’m feeling good.” The singer had said during his trial that he was plagued by back problems.

Jackson was acquitted of child molestation in June after a five-month trial in Santa Maria, Calif. He has not appeared in public since and has spent much of his time in Bahrain.

Jackson wants the charity anthem to follow the success of the 1984 worldwide hit “We Are the World,” which he co-wrote to benefit African starvation victims. Bain has said many artists have agreed to join the project, but the lineup hasn’t been finalized.

Bain says at least 14 performers so far have agreed to join in the song, including James Brown, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Lenny Kravitz, R. Kelly, Snoop Dogg, Ciara, Mariah Carey, Wyclef Jean, Lauren Hill, Yolanda Adams, Babyface, and the O’Jays.

But representatives for some of the artists said it was premature to say their clients were committed to the project.

Representatives for Snoop Dogg said he would take part. But Jay-Z’s publicist, Jana Fleishman, said the rapper had “been approached, but Jay told me directly he is not yet confirmed to be on that song.” Several other publicists said their clients were in talks and had yet to confirm.

Bain, however, insisted during a telephone interview Wednesday that Jackson had personally contacted all the artists himself. She said Jackson will record the tune on 2 Seas Records, the label owned by Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, son of the king of Bahrain. Jackson, who was acquitted after a grueling child molestation trial four months ago, has been a guest of Sheik Abdulla for the past several weeks.

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To confirm her account, Bain handed the phone to Sheik Abdulla, who said that he and Jackson had had talked to each artist personally. “He made every single call himself,” the sheik said.

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Jackson tried unsuccessfully to put together a benefit song called “What More Can I Give.”

For now, Bain said, the Katrina relief song is “a work in progress,” with a time, date and place of recording yet to be scheduled.