Subscribe to The Horn Book

Five questions for K. T. Horning on The Jackson 5

jackson 5 bannerIn her profile of Rita Williams-Garcia, K. T. Horning discusses the mutual love she and Rita have for The Jackson 5 — a love Rita infuses into her 2014 CSK Author Award–winning novel P.S. Be Eleven. After all, as K. T. writes, “nothing defined the era during which we [and protagonist Delphine] were eleven better than the Jackson 5.”

1. We heard through the grapevine that you are an avid Jackson 5 fan, and that you have one of the largest collections of Jackson 5 memorabilia in the world. How did this start?

KH: Like Rita Williams-Garcia, I saw one of the Jackson 5’s first TV appearances, and became an instant fan. I was hungry for photos of them but because they were Black, they were not featured in teen magazines, even after they had four number one hits in a row. I scoured the universe for any mention or picture of the Jackson 5, and I treasured everything I found. I think that’s what turned me into a collector. I only collect the Jackson 5 Motown era from 1968-75.

2. Approximately how many pieces are in your collection? What are some standouts? Rarities?

KH: I’ve never counted but I have gotten to the point where there is hardly anything I don’t have, and when Motown needs a photo or a piece of information, they contact me. My favorite collectibles are the 45s from around the world, many of which have picture sleeves. I have an autographed LP cover from 1970 where young Michael Jackson drew horns and mustaches on his brothers. My rarest items are Motown-produced memorabilia that you had to send away for from an ad on the inner LP sleeve, such as Jermaine’s Soul-Mate Kit and an interview 45 called “Rappin’ with the Jackson 5.” Motown had to create these things in-house because no one else was creating Jackson 5 merchandise. They even created their own teen magazine devoted to the Jackson 5, which was a prototype for Right On! magazine.

3. Where do you keep everything?

KH: I have a room in my house devoted to my collection that we refer to as the Jackson 5 shrine. Since I’m a librarian, I have everything neatly organized and cataloged.

4. Have you had any firsthand encounters with a Jackson family member?

KH: I saw them in concert at the Iowa State Fair in 1971 — probably the best time to see them because they were at their J5 peak then. It was Michael’s 13th birthday and he sang a beautiful cover of “Yesterday” by the Beatles. I didn’t meet them in person, but my sister-in-law interviewed them for the Des Moines Register. She said they were a tough interview, and she was eager to get away from their scary dad who scowled at her the whole time. It may be odd but I actually have had no desire to meet any of them in person, even though at one time I was sure I would grow up to marry Jermaine. After all, we were Soul Mates.

5. Is your fandom mostly about the music? The personalities? Nostalgia for the times?

KH: It’s mostly about the music. Motown has hundreds of unreleased songs in their vaults and I would give up my entire collection to have those songs. I’m also very interested in the Jackson 5’s place in social history. As the first Black teen idols, they had a huge impact on popular culture. They integrated teen magazines in the early 1970s, and a little over decade later, Michael integrated MTV when “Billie Jean” became the first video they aired by a Black artist. They were so talented they couldn’t be ignored. And they were a great source of pride for kids, particularly Black kids. That’s the era Rita captured so well in P.S. Be Eleven.



  1. Scoop Newsworthy says:

    K.T. has been a huge inspiration to me with regards to collecting J5 memorabilia and J5 fact finding. She’s awesome, knowledgable and one of the biggest fans I know.

    Thanks K.T.


Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind