For 15-year-old Justin Horton, music is more than just a pastime: it’s a way of dealing with hardship.
“It’s almost like when I sing a song that I know and like it will help get the pain out of me,” said Horton.
His sad experiences, or the “heavy stuff,” as Horton calls it, include the death of his uncle when he was four years old and the missing presence of his father. Horton’s dad has been in and out of jail, leaving Horton’s mother to raise two children alone.
“All my life my mom has always been there and my father hasn’t,” said Horton. “So I’m more close to my mom than I am with my dad. My mom knows how to care for me and cheers me up when I’m feeling sad.”
Horton loves to sing along to his favorites, especially Michael Jackson, when he’s feeling down. But he also loves watching movies with his mom.
Listen to Justin talk about singing his troubles away and being a movie buff:
In fact, it was a movie that inspired Horton to become a fan of Michael Jackson. He was introduced to the superstar through “The Jacksons: An American Dream,” a movie his mother suggested.
Horton is a big fan of the Jackson 5 and loves singing along to songs like “Who’s Lovin’ You.” But “You Are Not Alone” remains Horton’s favorite Jackson song.
“My uncle died when I was four so every time I hear that song I always remember that even though my uncle is dead, he will always be with me and that I’m never alone,” said Horton.
Michael Jackson’s death in 2009 came as a big shock.
“My heart was beating fast,” said Horton. “I know that he was a good entertainer and a good father, so I was just thinking what is his family going to do and how are his children going to get taken care of? Everybody was upset so I felt upset too.”
Listen to Justin sing, and discuss his love for Michael Jackson: