A New Jersey family has told talk show queen Oprah Winfrey that the late Michael Jackson nurtured them and regarded them as the “second family.” of the late pop star.

The Cascio family had a 25-year relationship with the singer and their son is featured on his unreleased album, they said on the Dec. 6 episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Dominic Cascio became friends with Jackson after meeting the star at a New York hotel where Casio worked as a banquet manager, according to Fox News. Cascio later introduced the singer to his wife, Connie, and their three children Eddie, Frank and Marie Nicole. Frank worked on the pop star’s personal staff, according to 2005 Fox News. The family eventually had two more children, who grew up knowing Jackson personally.

“We treated him as he was part of our family and that he was not the King of Pop but just a human being,” Connie Cascio told Winfrey.

The interview marked the first time the family has spoken publically about their relationship with Jackson. On the show, they shared home videos, photographs and other memories involving the pop artist. They celebrated Christmas with the star, comforted him during the child molestation allegations and were there for the birth of his children, they revealed.

Eddie Cascio said Jackson gave him music lessons and they eventually recorded 12 songs together. Three of the tracks are featured on the upcoming album, “Michael,” scheduled for release Dec. 14.

Some critics say the vocals on the songs are not Jackson’s and others, including Jackson family members, say Jackson would not have wanted the posthumous album to be released.

“I can tell you that it is Michael’s voice,” Eddie Cascio said. “He recorded right there in my basement.”

Jackson’s longtime producer Teddy Riley, who was also interviewed on the show, agreed.

“You can hear the authenticity in his voice, and you can hear the natural part of him,” he told Oprah.

Eddie Cascio later added, “Michael recorded for his fans” and they “deserve to hear the musical genius that Michael really is”.

The Cascios said Jackson last visited their home in January 2009, and said they spoke to him three days before his death. His passing still affects the family today, Connie Cascio said.

“It’s an everyday battle that we all have,” she said. “We all mention his name all day—at least once a day we mention him—because we actually can feel him in our home.”

Last month, Jackson’s mother, father and three children also appeared on Winfrey’s show.

Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO