In a reminder just how large Michael Jackson’s reach still is , and how incredible music can unite, PBS ARTS kicked off their Fall Festival by presenting The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson, stating that the night was just about that: Unity.

The rousing show offered classics bi-lingually performed with as much energy as the late great performer himself. On this night, music was all encompassing, as awarding-winning Latin artists were accompanied by a 37-piece orchestra, to perform the songs from Tony Succar’s album of the same name. Angel Lopez’s rendition of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” hit the perfect nostalgic sweet spot, which had the crowd jumping to their feet. Jean Rodriguez’ soulful delivery of “Smooth Criminal” proved to be another standout, taken to the next level by the ever-talented Shelia E. (who MC’d the night, and wowed the crowd on her own with several outfit changes) when she took the stage to show why she’s a world renowned drummer and percussionist.

As amazing as the upbeat tracks were, Jon Secada pulled on the heart strings of the crowd with his styling of “You Are Not Alone.” However, the most touching moment perhaps, came from Judith Hill, singing “Earth Song”, Ms. Hill was one of Michael’s most special back-up singers,as she was even chosen as his duet partner for “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” on his “This Is it” Tour, the one he would never see come to fruition.  After that moment of reflection, Kevin Ceballo’s “Black or White” got the crowd back on their feet, belting notes and hitting octaves into the stratosphere. The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson concluded with the song we’ve all sang to ourselves before, “Man in the Mirror, performed by several of the artists that had already graced the stage. This touching performance, as well as the rest of the show, was a lesson in just how easily music can bridge the gaps we may think we have over cultural, background, ethnicity or religious lines.

Check out the trailer below and make sure you visit unitylatintribute.com to catch the full show!