Can you imagine growing up listening and being able to see some of Motown’s greatest: Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, The Jackson 5, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and more, the list goes on and on. But the one person that you always looked forward to watching the most was your very own father, Martin Upshire of the Motown group, “The Contours,” that was famous for their hit, “Do You Love Me?”
Street performer, Edward Jackson, wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but more like being born with a tap dancing shoes on his feet.
Born and raised, Detroit, Michigan, Edward had always known he wanted to be a performer but didn’t know at what capacity it was going to be in. Growing up learning how to play the clarinet and trumpet, and learning how to dance like Michael Jackson. Growing up Edward was a part of the various Hip Hop band, but they didn’t carry his career as far as he would have liked it. With the city of Detroit is prohibiting street performances, Jackson wanted to take his career to new heights, but more within the public sector while supporting himself independently. Jackson relocated to San Francisco and found, “The Urban Funk Machine.”
“I knew that I wanted to be an artist and I didn’t want to play the game. I wanted to remain independent, so to speak, and run my business off of the street corner. The weather is also what brought me to San Francisco, and I knew as well that San Francisco had a street artist traditional. So that initially brought me to San Francisco.”
Jackson then had a vision of relocating to the city of San Francisco and establishing his career as a street performer. For the past 20 years, Jackson has been one of Union Square’s favorite, attracting crowds of tourists to watch him perform for hours at a time. For years he was tap dancing to prerecorded music, but Jackson was wanting to reinvent himself and bring some totally different that has never been done before.
And that’s where the idea of using his iPad as an instrument came into play and he credits it all to, “Jah.” Jackson has been a practicing Jehovah Witness for the past 10 years and is very appreciative of what has been become of him due to his praises to Jah. After perfecting his skill on the iPad and partnering with another street performer by the name of Larry The Bucketman Hunt, who has been featured in the Will Smith movie, “The Pursuit Of Happiness,” and also the Ice Cube film, ‘First Sunday.” In 2014, Jackson was approached by executives of Intel to do a commercial for them playing his iPad with the Intel software.
But you would think with the inventive means that Jackson used the iPad to create music and attract thousands of people throughout the week to listen to his music. There would be more offers knocking on his door to not only do commercials, but to also produce music for other corporations to market their products and/or services to the urban market.
“I believe that if my skin was White the floodgates would have opened up. I am just saying I don’t care who likes it,” says Jackson. “I am just telling the truth. I Black man using the technology that has never been used before. I am somewhat of a threat. This is not a novelty. I am not going to go away. I am here. Whether you pick me up or decide to work with me or not.”
Jackson’s Intel commercial was only used for 90 days with very little promotion since its released in April 2014. A link to Youtube of the Intel commercial was found with only 300 views. Despite Jackson’s short-lived corporate success, he performs regularly in downtown San Francisco on Market Street by Union Square… Just look for the crowd of hundreds surrounding him and enjoying the sounds of the Urban Funk Machine.
Edward Jackson and the Urban Funk Machine will be performing at the First Annual Bay Area Street Symphony in Oakland on Thursday, November 16th. The First Annual Bay Area Street Symphony will be a collective group of street performers and musicians working together to raise money to feed the homeless this Thanksgiving Holiday; 100% of all door proceeds will be used to organize and distribute bag dinners.
Edward Jackson and the Urban Funk Machine is available for hire and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org