Kate's Notes

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson

Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966) was introduced to the world as the little sister of the Jackson 5 in the early 70s; however, she came into her own, and separated herself from the Jackson legacy, when she embarked on her solo career in the late 1980s. She then truly defined herself as a independant, versatile singer and performer in the 1990s, when she reinvented herself from a pop-star military-esque dancer, to a sexy sole-queen with a set of sultry songs.

This Grammy award-winning, Golden Globe, and Academy Award-nominated American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actress, initially stepped into the limelight in the Jackson family's 1974 Las Vegas production, their 1976 television show, and later on her own as a television actress.

She then released two modestly successful records, Janet Jackson and Dream Street, in the early 1980s. But then, in an effort to establish her own identity apart from her famous family, Jackson teamed up with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis in the mid 1980s, creating a superstar-making partnership which has lasted to the present day. Jackson's breakout album, Control (1986), led to the Grammy-winning albums Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989), janet. (1993), The Velvet Rope (1997), All for You (2001), and Grammy-nominated albums Damita Jo (2004) and 20 Y.O. (2006).

Jackson has sold over 100 million records and is ranked as the ninth most successful artist in the history of rock and roll according to Billboard in 2004. She also holds the record for the most Billboard Music Awards won by a single artist: a record 33.

After sometime out of the public’s attention, in 2006, she was embroiled in drama around her infamous "wardrobe malfunction" at that year's Super Bowl. After this it was announced that Jackson was the "Most Searched on the Internet," and the "Most Searched for News Item," in the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2007, Jackson was ranked the 7th richest woman in the entertainment business by Forbes Magazine, amassing a fortune of over $150 Million.

She has recently reinvented herself again, coming out publicly with her romance with Jermaine Dupri, and showing off a new tight and toned physique wherein she looks poised and ready to take over pop music once more.

Early Life

Jackson was born the youngest of her ten siblings in Gary, Indiana to parents Joseph Jackson, who worked in a steel mill, before becoming a Jehovah's Witness, and Katherine Jackson, a housewife. When Jackson was a child, the twelve-person family lived in a two-bedroom house.

Before Jackson's birth, her father decided to try his hand at a musical career, fronting the R&B band The Falcons. The band was ultimately unsuccessful, never getting as far as the top nightclubs in Indiana. According to reports, Jackson's father was gregarious but stern, and apparently, sometimes abusive.

By the time she was a toddler, Jackson's older brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael had already begun to perform on stage at nightclubs and theaters as the Jackson 5. In March 1969, the group signed with Motown Records, and by the end of the year the group recorded the first of their four consecutive number-one singles. The Jackson 5's success allowed the entire family to move to Southern California where they settled in a gated mansion named Hayvenhurst in Encino, CA in 1971.

Going against the family business, Janet did not have any intention of entering show business; instead, she wanted to be a horse jockey. However, after the Jackson 5's success began to diminish, Joseph Jackson decided to bring the rest of his children into the spotlight in order to sustain their family’s success.

On April 9, 1974, Jackson made her public debut performance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, with nearly all nine members of the Jackson family. Jackson quickly became a star of the show, imitating various celebrities such as Cher, Marie Osmond, Toni Tennille and Mae West.

By 1976, the Jackson family's Vegas act had caught the attention of CBS president Fred Silverman. The network was desperately trying to find a new variety act to replace the recently ended Sonny & Cher Show, since ABC had a competing show featuring Donny and Marie Osmond. Debuting on June 16, 1976, “The Jacksons” show became the first American black family variety show on television. The show was cancelled after only two seasons in 1977.

Recording Career

Though Jackson never aspired to be a professional singer, she nonetheless agreed to participate to help her family.

Jackson always had an interest in music, writing her first song at the age of nine. Her first recording was a duet with her brother Randy on a song titled 'Love Song for Kids' in 1978. She participated in her family's other recordings, particularly with sister La Toya and brother Michael. Although she was asked by her father Joseph to start a singing career, Jackson was uncomfortable with being in the recording studio. She felt she was not as vocally talented as her sister Rebbie or her brother Michael, who was becoming a solo pop superstar. Nonetheless, at the age of 16, she released her debut album, Janet Jackson (1982). Produced by soul singers Angela Winbush, Rene Moore and Leon Sylvers of the famed Sylvers family music group, the album reached the top ten of the Billboard R&B album charts.

Janet Jackson spent 45 weeks in the chart's top 50 but was much less successful on the Billboard pop albums chart. The album yielded three singles: “Young Love,” “Say You Do” and “Come Give Your Love to Me.” The album sold more than one million (1,000,000) copies worldwide since the time of its release.

In 1984, when Jackson was still only18, she released her second album entitled Dream Street. It marked a musical progression from her debut, with funkier, up-tempo production by brother Marlon and famed disco producer Giorgio Moroder, who produced songs for artists such as Donna Summer. The album failed to make the Top 100 of the Billboard pop album charts but did reach 19th on the R&B chart. Though Dream Street scored a Top 10 R&B hit with "Don't Stand Another Chance", sales of Dream Street were less than that of Jackson's debut album and it has sold about 300,000 units in the U.S and 1,000,000 world wide. Critics soon began to dismiss Jackson's career as a pop star.

Around the same time, Jackson eloped with James DeBarge, a member of the Motown family group DeBarge, and kept the marriage hidden from the public. Before they were married, Jackson and James dated since she was 16 years old and he was 19 years old. In addition to the fact that Joe Jackson did not approve of the marriage, Jackson herself later admitted that the marriage was not a good one. Jackson was granted an annullment in March 1985. There have been allegations made by Debarge's brother, that Jackson and DeBarge produced a daughter who was born shortly after their breakup and lived with her aunt Rebbie Jackson. Jackson has refuted these rumors.

Inception into the Limelight: 1986–1991

After the limited successes of her first two albums, A&M Records, A&R John McClain hired producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to jump-start Jackson's career. Before leaving for Minneapolis, Jam and Lewis were given the blessing of Jackson's father, her manager at the time, with the promise that they would not have Jackson sounding anything like Prince, a Minneapolis native.

Within months just a few months of 1985, Jackson, Jam, and Lewis crafted Jackson's breakthrough album, Control, a vehicle for Jackson to sing about talking "control" of her own life. Control, released February 1986, became a hit, spawning five Top 5 singles, including her first number one single "When I Think Of You," "What Have You Done For Me Lately," "The Pleasure Principle," and the ballad "Let's Wait Awhile."

Popularity was partly due to Jackson's music videos which showcased choreography created by Paula Abdul. The album went to the top of the Billboard Album Charts, and has sold more than 8 million copies in America. Control was awarded a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year, six Billboard Music Awards, four American Music Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards and three Soul Train Music Awards, including Album of the Year.

That same year, Jackson took an important step toward independence by firing her father-manager, Joseph Jackson.

In 1989, Jackson began recording her fourth album, Rhythm Nation 1814. 1814 referred to the year the song "The Star Spangled Banner" was written; in addition, 'R' is the 18th letter of the alphabet and 'N' the 14th, hence 1814. Executives at A&M wanted a record that was similar to Control, but Jackson was determined to do something different. She presented a mixed bag of New Jack Swing and socially-conscious tracks inspired by the work of Marvin Gaye and Joni Mitchell).

Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis originally wanted the album's more upbeat tracks to be housed on the first half of the album, with the more socially-conscious material relegated to the latter half. Jackson disagreed: she thought the album had an important message and pushed it to be the record's main focus.

Released in September 1989, Rhythm Nation 1814 went to number one on the Billboard 200 Album and R&B charts. The first single, "Miss You Much," went straight to number one. A black and white long-form video was created for the album; it included "Miss You Much," "The Knowledge," and the title track "Rhythm Nation." The film was shot by director Domenic Sena (See also “Rhythm Nation 1814 Film”). The video represented a "coming together" of all people while taking a firm social stance on issues such as bigotry, ignorance, and education. Jackson's choreography was infused with elaborate military-style moves and costumes. “The Rhythm Nation” film went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Video.

Rhythm Nation 1814 sold eight million copies in the US and became the first album to spawn seven Top 5 singles: "Alright" and "Come Back To Me," as well as four number one singles: "Miss You Much," "Rhythm Nation," "Escapade," "Black Cat," and "Love Will Never Do (Without You)." In 1990, Billboard awarded the album with the #1 Selling Album of the Year Award. Jackson went onto win 15 Billboard Music Awards, five American Music Awards, four Soul Train Music Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards and her first Grammy Award.

The Rhythm Nation 1814 Tour had an impressive attendance of more than two million people. Jackson became the first artist to score a #1 hit simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 and Mainstream Rock singles charts with "Black Cat" in 1990. The song's rock influence was a departure from her other work. The album scored four number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, and the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart and three number one singles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.

In an effort to take a dramatic turn with her image, Jackson decided to shoot a sexy video with famed photographer Herb Ritts for the final single, "Love Will Never Do (Without You)." The video proved to be a turning point for Jackson: she was no longer the shy girl that the public had grown to know, and instead, she had become a woman who had succeeded in carving out her own prestigious place in music history.

In 1991, Jackson and long-time boyfriend, dancer and choreographer René Elizondo Jr., were secretly married in a private ceremony. Both hid their marriage from the public for almost a decade.

Furthering Her Career: 1992–1995

Before Jackson released her follow-up to Rhythm Nation 1814, she was freed from her contract with A&M Records. When Jackson signed to Virgin Records in 1992, it was a whirlwind media event. Her $40 million deal was at the time the largest recording deal in history. It set the stage for her Virgin Records debut album titled janet. or janet(period). Jackson, wanting to be recognized in her own right, dropped the surname 'Jackson' from the cover of the album. The eclectic set featured pop, rock, dance, funk and even opera, and showed not only Jackson's softer side, but her sexy side as well. The album became the first by a female artist to debut at number one during the Nielsen SoundScan era.

Jackson’s new album was a deviation from the hard dance beats that proceeded it, and she introduced a softer and sexier side of herself, that completely separated her image from that of her brother Michael Jackson. Jackson kicked off the album with a slow sensual ballad, rather than a dance track as she had done previously. The first single, "That's The Way Love Goes," became the first and only single in radio history to enter the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart at number one. Within weeks it became number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached number one in 22 countries, sold 20 million copies, and won several awards, including a Grammy Award. It was the fourth best-selling album of the year in the United States, and the eighth best-selling album on the year-end Billboard Top Albums chart during the following year. The album spawned five other Top 10 hit singles: "If," "You Want This," "Again," "Any Time, Any Place," and "Because of Love." Jackson produced a racy video for the single "Any Time, Any Place" featuring herself in numerous sexual positions with another actor. Jackson included a message of safe sex in the video. The song stayed afloat at the top of the R&B charts for ten weeks.

In July 1993, Jackson made her big-screen debut in the John Singleton directed, Poetic Justice, which co-starred Tupac Shakur. Jackson's most successful ballad, "Again," was featured on the film's soundtrack. The single rose to number one and garnered a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song From A Motion Picture.

The janet. Tour began in November 1993 and played for 12 full months at sold-out venues worldwide.

After years of reservations, Jackson decided to collaborate with her brother, Michael Jackson, on the 1995 single, "Scream", the lead single from his first greatest hits collection. The song, which lashed out at the media, featured a futuristic music video created with the help of director Mark Romanek. In October 1995, Jackson released her first greatest hits package, Design of a Decade 1986/1996. The album focused primarily on her A&M period but contained one Virgin Records track, "That's the Way Love Goes." Two new songs were recorded for the package, "Runaway," and "Twenty Foreplay."

Personal and Professional Struggles: 1996–1999

“Twisted elegance... It's my belief, that we all have the need to feel special... and it's this need that can bring out the best in us... yet the worst in us... this need created... The Velvet Rope. ”

In 1996, Jackson re-signed with Virgin for a reported $80 million, which made her the highest paid female recording artist of all time. At the same time, she was trying to create a concept for her sixth album and was suffering from clinical depression. The result was a dark, self-revealing project, The Velvet Rope (1997). In September 1997, the album's lead single, "Got 'Til It's Gone" was released. The single sampled the Joni Mitchell classic, “Big Yellow Taxi” and featured a guest spot by rapper, Q-Tip.

Jackson reinvented herself from the sultry image of the sole-queen from her janet. album and developed a new image, which included piercing, and tattoos, one of which was the "Sankofa," an Akan symbol meaning, "we must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward," which appeared on the inside of her wrist.

Fans seemed taken aback by the album's content, which dealt with domestic abuse, depression, low self-esteem, isolation, and S&M, made up the bulk of the album's content. The Velvet Rope's cover, shot by photographer Ellen von Unwerth, featured Jackson with her head down, in a defeated-like pose, with only the word, “Janet,” glazed over top of the image. The glazed letters were invisible except in reflection, so they do not appear in most pictures of the cover; they were not included on later pressings of the album. There was a lot of speculation about the stories behind the songs, but Jackson has not divulged much about them. The Velvet Rope became her fourth number-one album on the Billboard 200 and has since sold more than eight million copies worldwide.

In 1998, Jackson set out on a world tour, The Velvet Rope Tour, hitting Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia. As her world tour in 1999 came to a close, Jackson guest-vocaled on songs, "Luv Me, Luv Me," with Shaggy, for the How Stella Got Her Groove Back soundtrack, and the Grammy-nominated, "God's Stepchild," (Down on the Delta), "What's It Gonna Be," with Busta Rhymes. Jackson also contributed vocals on the Blackstreet song, "Girlfriend/Boyfriend," and dueted with Elton John for the song, "I Know The Truth." With her newfound exposure to Hip-Hop, Jackson toyed with the idea of doing a full album focusing on the genre. As 1999 ended, Billboard Magazine ranked Jackson as the second most successful artist of the 1990s, behind Mariah Carey.

The album yielded a total of four hit singles. The second single "Together Again," an upbeat, musical tribute to her friends, who had died of AIDS, became a hit. A portion of the sales from the single, were donated to AIDS research. The funky, "Go Deep," and "I Get Lonely", were both successful. The last single, "Every Time," produced a music video in which Jackson was filmed underwater.

Around the time that The Velvet Rope was released, the media speculated that Jackson's relationship with René Elizondo had fallen apart. Both Jackson and Elizondo admitted later that they had become more business partners than a couple, cultivating the sounds that made Jackson's music popular. By 1999, their secret marriage was over although it was not made public until the following year. Jackson explained in interviews that, having been in the public spotlight herself at a young age, she felt that announcing her marriage publicly would have a negative effect on the relationship, which was already struggling.

Popularity Resurgence: 2000–2003

In mid-2000, Jackson returned to the big screen, with her second film, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, with Eddie Murphy. Jackson also contributed to the film's soundtrack with the hit, "Doesn't Really Matter." The song became Jackson's ninth number one US single on the Billboard Charts. During this period, the public learned of Jackson's secret longtime marriage to Rene Elizondo when the couple announced that they were separating.

In March 2001, Jackson was awarded a top honor American Music Award 'Award of Merit,' and was named MTV's first 'Icon', which resulted in performances featuring Destiny's Child, N'Sync, Christina Aguilera, Usher, Britney Spears and others.

Shortly after, Jackson’s seventh album, All for You, was released. The album's number-one title track helped the album debut at number one, her fifth such debut, in its first week of sales, with more than 605,000 copies sold in the United States. All for You went on to sell more than three million copies in America, and it spawned the Billboard hit "Someone To Call My Lover." By the end of the year, All for You won Jackson her fifth Grammy Award.

In 2001, Rene Elizondo sued Jackson for spousal support. Their court battle ended in 2003 with the divorce finalized and Elizondo receiving half the multi-million dollar pay-off he was hoping for.

Jackson scored a top 40 single with "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)" featuring Carly Simon. Remixed by rapper Missy Elliot, it would be her last single from the All for You album and would become one of the centerpieces of her All for You Tour in 2002. Following this success, she collaborated with reggae singer Beenie Man on the song “Feel It Boy” and began a relationship with hip-hop producer Jermaine Dupri. Jackson began work on her next album and accepted an invitation to join the 2003 Super Bowl festivities.

Wardrobe Malfunction Heard Around the World: 2004–2005

During the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII on February 1, 2004, Jackson performed with Justin Timberlake to a live audience of more than one hundred million people. During the performance, Jackson sang along with Timberlake on his song "Rock Your Body." When Timberlake sang the lyric "gonna have you naked by the end of this song," he tore open Jackson's top exposing her right breast, which was partially covered by a star-shaped nipple shield.

Timberlake released a statement and went on national television calling the incident a "wardrobe malfunction..." Jackson, however, apologized, calling it an accident and saying that Timberlake was supposed to pull away the bustier and leave the red-lace bra intact. However, she later said to an interviewer for Genre magazine that she wished she had not apologized at all, due to the fact that it made her seem guilty to the public. CBS, the NFL, and MTV (then one of CBS's corporate siblings), which produced the halftime show, denied all responsibility under a hail of criticism. Jackson and Timberlake confirmed those denials, but the FCC continued an investigation. As a result, CBS invited Jackson to appear at the 2004 Grammy Awards ceremony to make another public apology. She declined, but Justin Timberlake apologized and appeared as both a performer and a presenter.

In April 2004, Jackson released her eighth studio effort, Damita Jo, with a debut at number two and opening week sales of nearly 400,000 copies. The songs released from the album, including the Prince-inspired "Just a Little While," the Motown/Supremes-inspired ballad "I Want You," and "All Nite (Don't Stop)," also performed modestly on the charts. Jackson described the album as a portrait of the many personalities living inside her.

Damita Jo sold 3 million copies world wide and received nominations from the American Music Awards, Billboard Awards, Source Music Awards, BET Music Awards, and Grammy Awards including Contemporary R&B Album of the Year. Jermaine Dupri, Jackson’s boyfriend, left his post on the Grammy Awards committee after Jackson refused to apologize again for what happened at the Super Bowl.

Since 2004, there have been rumors that the couple has married, though they have consistently denied these reports. Dupri appeared in Jackson’s video for "I Want You", while Jackson returned the favor by appearing in Dupri's video for his 2005 single, "Gotta Getcha." The Anders Bagge co-produced dance single contains subtle trance and Europop influences.

Jackson appeared as a host of “Saturday Night Live” on April 10, 2004, where she performed a skit that parodied the Super Bowl incident. Jackson also appeared in the sitcom “Will & Grace” playing herself as Jack McFarland auditioned to be her back-up dancer. Jackson became the most-searched for person on the Internet in 2004, probably due to the fact that everyone wanted to see pictures of the infamous Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.” Jackson was also the most-searched person on Google.com in 2005.

On June 15, 2005, Jackson was awarded a Humanitarian Award by the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization on behalf of her work and involvement in raising money for AIDS charities.

She accepted the award, saying, "what I've learned in these recent months is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's real. It's a beautiful light that both comforts our minds and strengthens our souls. Tonight my heart is filled with gratitude for that light. I'm so grateful that prayers are answered, that faith is rewarded and tolerance is celebrated as a virtue. I'm grateful that God is of unconditional love."

20-Years on the Stage: 2006–present

Jackson celebrated her 40th birthday on May 16, 2006, with a birthday bash at Shereen Arazms Shag in Los Angeles. Many of her former dancers attended. Jackson was serenaded by singer Stevie Wonder.

Jackson appeared on the cover of Us Weekly in June 2006 and it became the magazine's best selling issue ever, beating issues with Angelina Jolie and Jessica Simpson on the cover.

On May 1, 2006, Jackson revealed a remade song, “Weekend,” on her official website, along with a message stating that she had finished working on her latest album, 20 Y.O.

The next day, Jackson left a new message saying that “Weekend” would not appear on 20 Y.O., and that the first single “Call on Me,” a duet with Nelly, (which hit #1 on the R&B charts), would be released on June 19, 2006. Jackson released her ninth album on September 26, 2006.

20 Y.O. is supposed to be a nod to the 20th anniversary of Control, the album that was her coming out as an independent singer, (and said to reference to how old Jackson feels), debuted at Number 2 on the Billboard 200 charts, selling 296,873 copies in its first week.

Jackson launched a contest giving fans an opportunity to create the artwork for the album. The "Design Me" contest required participants to download images of Jackson and create proposed covers for the album. Jackson hand-picked dozens of images, new and old, to be used in the contest. She selected her top four favorites, which were used for the first one million copies of 20 Y.O.

The second single, "So Excited" which was sent to radio on August 28, 2006. Jackson continued to prepare for her upcoming world tour. Jackson opened the 2006 Billboard Music Awards, performing a medley of "The Pleasure Principle", and "So Excited." 2007 saw 20 Y.O. shortlisted for 'Best Contemporary R&B Album' at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards, however the album lost out to Beyoncé's album B'Day.

In early 2006, Jackson reemerged onto the glossy pages with pictures of her in which she appeared to have gained a considerable amount of weight. In response to this noticeable difference, a friend said, "Janet always gains weight when she's not working - and always loses it in time to promote her albums. Janet always takes care of it when it matters," a nd she did just that: upon the release of her album, Jackson had shed all of the unwanted weight, and more, revealing her new toned and tight body on the covers of several magazines, including FHM and Bazaar. This led many to gossip and insinuate that she had received plastic surgery.

Reviews for 20 Y.O. were mixed by critics and fans alike. Sales for the album were also disappointing. Producer Jermaine Dupri was reportedly let go of his position as president of the Urban division at Virgin Records due to the album's dismal record sales (although some reports claimed Dupri quit). Virgin pulled the plug on the album's third single, "With U", in early 2007. Reports began to circulate that Jackson, unhappy with her label situation, would be shopping for a new deal. Such reports put the planned world tour in question.

As of February 2007, it is still widely believed that Jackson will embark on a tour of some scale, although dates have yet to be announced. It has also been reported, although not confirmed, that a new album, possibly a Greatest Hits, or a Remix album will be released to coincide with the new tour. On February 16, 2007, Jackson's choreographer Gil stated on his personal blog that Jackson's tour for 20 Y.O doesn't look like it will take place. A day later his blog was erased and he left a message on JanetJackson.com stating that he didn't know that his message would be in the press like it was.


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