Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer. A prominent figure in popular culture, she is known for sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, and elaborate stage shows.
The youngest child of the Jackson family, she began her career with the variety television series The Jacksons in 1976 and went on to appear in other television shows throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, including Good Times, Diff’rent Strokes , and Fame. After signing a recording contract with A&M Records in 1982, she became a pop icon following the release of her third and fourth studio albums Control (1986) and Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989). Her collaborations with record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis incorporated elements of rhythm and blues, funk, disco, rap and industrial beats, which led to crossover success in popular music.
In 1991, Jackson signed the first of two record-breaking multimillion-dollar contracts with Virgin Records, establishing her as one of the highest-paid artists in the industry. Her fifth album Janet (1993) saw her develop a public image as a sex symbol as she began to explore sexuality in her music. That same year, she appeared in her first starring film role in Poetic Justice, and has since continued to act in feature films. Jackson then released her sixth studio album The Velvet Rope (1997), which is distinguished for its innovative production and dark lyrical content. By the end of the 1990s, she was named by Billboard magazine as the second most successful recording artist of the decade after Mariah Carey. Her seventh album All for You (2001) coincided with a celebration of her impact on the recording industry as the inaugural MTV Icon. After parting ways with Virgin Records, she released her tenth album Discipline (2008), her first and only album with Island Records. In 2015, she partnered with BMG Rights Management to launch her own record label, Rhythm Nation, and released her eleventh album Unbreakable the same year.
Having sold over 100 million records, Jackson is one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time. She has amassed an extensive catalog, with singles such as “Nasty”, “Rhythm Nation”, “That’s the Way Love Goes”, “Together Again” and “All for You”; she holds the record for the most consecutive top-ten entries on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart by a female artist with 18. In 2008, Billboard placed her number seven on its list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, and in 2010 ranked her fifth among the “Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years”. In December 2016, the magazine named her the second most successful dance club artist of all-time after Madonna. She has been cited as an inspiration among numerous performers. Jackson was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.
Life and career
2015–present: Rhythm Nation record label, Unbreakable and concert residency
On May 16, 2015, Jackson announced plans to release a new album and to embark on a world concert tour. She outlined her intention to release her new album in the fall of 2015 under her own record label, Rhythm Nation, distributed by BMG Rights Management. The launch of Rhythm Nation established Jackson as one of the few African-American female musicians to own a record label.
On June 15, 2015, Jackson announced the first set of dates for the North American leg of her Unbreakable World Tour. On June 22, the lead single “No Sleeep” was released from the album. Jackson’s solo version of the single debuted on the Hot 100 at number 67, marking her 40th entry on the chart. The song went to number 1 on the Billboard + Twitter Trending 140 immediately following the release. The album version featuring J. Cole enabled it to re-enter the Hot 100 with a new peak position at number 63, while also topping the Adult R&B Songs chart.
BET presented Jackson with their inaugural Ultimate Icon: Music Dance Visual award at the BET Awards 2015, which also featured a dance tribute to her performed by Ciara, Jason Derulo and Tinashe. It was announced she would launch a luxury jewelry line called the “Janet Jackson Unbreakable Diamonds collection,” a joint venture between herself and Paul Raps New York. On August 20, she released a preview of a new song “The Great Forever,” while also confirming the title of her eleventh studio album as Unbreakable.
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis stated that Jackson’s concept for the album was developed simultaneously with the accompanying tour’s production and that its composition will differ from the majority of her catalog. They also stated that the album’s theme reflects “being able to be vulnerable and to be able to withstand what comes to you,” drawing on Jackson’s experiences over the past several years. The album’s title track “Unbreakable” was released on September 3, 2015, debuting on Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio station, hosted by Ebro Darden. The album was also made available for pre-order on iTunes the same day. “Burnitup!” featuring Missy Elliott debuted on BBC Radio 1 on September 24, 2015. Unbreakable was released on October 2, 2015. It received largely positive reviews, including those by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian. The following week, Jackson received her first nomination to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, becoming her seventh album to top the chart in the United States.
On April 6, 2016, Jackson announced that she was “planning her family” with husband Wissam Al Mana, resulting in her postponing her tour. On May 1, 2017, Jackson announced she would resume her Unbreakable World Tour, now known as the State of the World Tour. The revamped tour launched on September 7, 2017. Refocusing the tour’s theme to reflect socially conscious messages from Jackson’s entire music catalog, a number of songs selected for the concert set list along with corresponding imagery depicted on stage address racism, white supremacy, fascism, xenophobia and police brutality. The tour opened to positive critical reception, with several commentators praising Jackson’s post-pregnancy physical fitness, showmanship and socially conscious messages.
Her emotional rendition of “What About”, a song about domestic violence originally recorded for The Velvet Rope, drew media attention highlighting her recent separation from her husband; Jackson’s brother Randy alleges she suffered verbal abuse by Al Mana which contributed to the breakdown of their marriage. Proceeds from the concert of September 9, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas were donated to relief efforts supporting evacuees of Hurricane Harvey. Jackson met with Houston mayor Sylvester Turner and evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center prior to the performance. In May 2018, it was announced that Jackson would received the Billboard Icon Award at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards. In an interview for Billboard magazine, Jackson revealed that she was currently working on new music. On August 16, 2018, it was announced that Jackson and Rhythm Nation had entered into a partnership with Cinq Music. The next day, Jackson released the single “Made for Now”, a collaboration with Daddy Yankee. In October 2018, she received her third nomination for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On December 13, 2018, Jackson was announced as one of the seven inductees of the 2019 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On February 26, 2019, Jackson announced a four-month Las Vegas residency entitled Metamorphosis. The initial schedule comprised fourteen shows at the Park Theater at Park MGM resort; three additional shows were announced in May. In June 2019, Jackson played the Glastonbury Festival and the Montreux Jazz Festival. Jackson will perform a one-off concert in support of the 30th anniversary of Rhythm Nation 1814 on September 21, 2019 at the Chase Center in San Francisco. On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Janet Jackson among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. In November 2019, Jackson will be headlining the RNB Fridays Live music festival and Friday Jams Live festival in Australia and New Zealand respectively.