She is a singer-songwriter and actress born Janet
Damita Jo Jackson in Gary, Indiana, as the youngest in a musical family of nine
children where five of her older brothers, namely Tito, Jermaine, Jackie,
Marlon and Michael, were already finding tremendous success as The Jackson
5 in 1969, when she was still only three years old.
Due to her brothers’ success the family moved to Encino,
California in 1971, but she had ideas of working with racehorses as a
jockey from an early age and had no wish to enter the entertainment
industry. Her father had other
ideas though and when she was seven years old she appeared with her family
on stage in a 1973 performance in Las Vegas. According to her biography it was stated that from the
following year, when she was eight, she had to stop calling her father
“Dad” and refer to him as “Joseph” because he was her manager.
Her professional career began in 1976 where she
appeared as an actress with her brothers and sisters Jackie, La Toya,
Marlson, Michael, Randy, Rebbie and Tito in CBS’s The Jacksons. The
following year she began working in the sitcom Good Times and from
1979 she had a starring role in A New Kind of Family. She also apprehensively recorded
with her family and she sang “Love Song for Kids” in a duet with her
brother Randy in 1978.
In 1981 she was Charlene Duprey in the series Diff’rent
Strokes and after 1982 she appeared as Cleo in Fame’s fourth
season. 1982 saw quite a turn
round for her when her father secured her a contract with A&M and
before she knew it she was releasing her debut album Janet Jackson. It brought her success when it
reached No.6 on the Billboard R&B chart. Her follow up album Dream Street came out two
years later in 1984, but this time her brothers were involved when their
father recruited Jackie, Michael and Tito to be backing singers and Marlon
wrote two of the songs. This
wasn’t as successful as her first endeavour though and only peaked at No.
19 on the R&B chart. It
did, however, produce the No. 9 reaching R&B single’s chart entry
“Don’t Stand Another Chance”.
Next began a huge period of change for her when in
1984 she and the singer James DeBarge decided to elope, but unfortunately
the marriage didn’t last and was annulled in 1985. She also felt the need to get out
from under the control of her father and after telling him she didn’t want
to work with him again she hired her own team of producers and within six
weeks released the album Control. In early 1986 it reached the No. 1 spot in the Billboard
200 and the Billboard R&B charts, No. 8 in the UK. and No. 9 in Canada,
making platinum status in each of these countries and a Grammy Award nomination. It also saw further success when 5
of the tracks released from it reached Top 5 status, with “When I Think of
You” being her first No. 1 single.
Several years after this success she released her next
album Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 in 1989. Once again it soared up to the No.
1 spot on the Billboard 200, No. 4 in the UK and No. 5 in Canada and became
platinum in each country once again.
It was also the only album ever to have seven Top 5 singles and the
only album ever to have single releases from it that went to No. 1 in three
separate years, i.e. 1989, 1990 and 1991. The video from “Rhythm Nation” became a Grammy Award
winner and the supporting tour, which as her debut tour, was a massive success
and she went on to work with the United Negro College Fund to establish the
Rhythm Nation Scholarship.
She completed her contract with A&M Records and
was then approached Richard Branson to join his Virgin Records, which made
her the highest paid female recording artist at the time. She also got married again to Rene
Elizondo Jr. in 1991.
In 1992 she recorded “The Best Things in Life Are
Free” in a duet with Luther Vandross, which was one of the songs featured
on the soundtrack of the movie Mo’ Money. The following year she released her first album with
Virgin called simply janet., which was seen as an attempt to be
recognised as an individual artist rather than be seen as using the fame
and/or assistance of the other members of the Jackson family. Once again she reached the top in
the US charts, for the first time in the UK and many other countries as
well, and as had become usual, the album went platinum several times
over. Of the several singles
released from it, all of which reached the Top 10, the No. 1 “That’s the
Way the Love Goes” won her another Grammy Award and the supporting tour
brought her further acclaim.
Returning to her acting roots in 1993, she appeared in
Poetic Justice, which was her film debut. Her song “Again” was used on the soundtrack and this
brought an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. In 1994 she worked in collaboration
with her brother Michael on their co-written “Scream”. It had the most expensive video
ever made, became the first single to debut at No. 5 on the Hot 100 Singles
chart and won them a Grammy Award.
The following year Design of a Decade 1986/1996 was released
as her first compilation album and debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at
No. 3 with the lead single “Runaway” debuting in the Top 10 on the Hot 100
and making her the first female artist to achieve that particular
accolade. The album made
platinum status again, as had become the norm.
In 1996 she signed her renewed contract with Virgin,
which made her earnings exceed those of Madonna and her brother
Michael. The next year, in 1997,
her next multi platinum album The Velvet Rope was released after a
reported bout of depression, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and
reaching No. 6 in the UK. The
video for one of the ensuing singles “Got ‘Til It’s Gone” received a 1997
Grammy Award and the success of “Together Again” put her level with The
Rolling Stones, Diana Ross and Elton John with eight No. 1s on the
Billboard Hot 100 as well as seeing her donating part of the money earned
from the single to the American Foundation for AIDS Research. The supporting world tour saw her
performing an HBO concert special, which was the winner of four EMMY
She and her husband separated before her world tour
was over in 1999 and in 2000 he filed a lawsuit against her, which did not
reach a settlement until around 3 years later. On her return to the US after the tour she appeared as a
guest vocalist on soundtracks and several recordings, including “I Know the
Truth” which was a duet with Elton John. The 1999 World Music Awards presented her with a Legend
Award for “lifelong contribution to the music industry and outstanding
contribution to the pop industry”.
Back to acting again she appeared in Nutty
Professor II: The Klumps with Eddie Murphy and her song for the
soundtrack “Doesn’t Really Matter” saw her reaching No. 1 on the Billboard
Hot 100 for the 9th time.
She was awarded the Award of Merit at the American Music Awards in
2001 and was the first winner of the mtvICON Award. Also in 2001 she released yet
another album that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 entitled All
for You. This one has been
recorded as selling the most copies in the first week than any others in
her career and she received another Grammy Award for the title song “All
In 2004 she found herself faced with a huge amount of
controversy when she duetted with Justin Timberlake for the halftime show
at Super Bowl XXXVIII. Justin
tore open the right side of the top she was wearing during the song, which
accidentally exposed her breast.
Both singers gave their apologies for the incident, which has since
been replayed countless times and seen Janet gaining an entry into the
Guinness Book of Records as the “Most Searched in Internet History”. The controversy also had quite a
deleterious effect on her acting career when a plan for her to film Lena
Horne’s biopic for ABC-TV had her withdrawing from the project. Also in 2004 she released her
Damita Jo, which debuted at No. 2 and went platinum even though the
four released singles didn’t reach the Top 40. She was the host of an episode of Saturday Night Live
in April 2004 and made an appearance in Will & Grace.
2005 came along and the AIDS Project Los Angeles and
Human Rights Campaign presented with a Humanitarian Award. The following year she released the
platinum status 20 Y.O., with the title referencing her breakthrough
album Control 20 years previously, debuting at No. 2 on the
Billboard 200 just like her previous album.
Back to acting again in 2007 she starred in the movie Why
Did I Get Married? which opened at No. 1 in the box office just like
her previous two film releases.
That same year she also changed record labels and signed with Island
Records with whom she released Discipline in 2008, which was another
of her Billboard 200 No. 1 debuting releases. The relationship with her new label didn’t last though
and after Janet’s unhappiness with the way the album was promoted they
In 2009 she
was back on the film set for Why Did I Get Married Too? and it was
during this time that she was informed of the unexpected and sudden death
of her brother Michael. After
speaking at the BET Awards where she thanked all the people who supported
her and her family and giving exclusive interview for Harper’s Bazaar
she threw herself back into her work to help her get through the periods of
mourning and grief. Later that
year she performed “Scream” as a tribute to her brother at the MTV Music
Awards and released the single “Make Me” on her web site and later as a
download. She went to Milan where
she was the chairperson of The Foundation for AIDS Research and released
her second compilation Number Ones, which is known as The Best outside
of the US.
her busy as ever with her releasing her book True You, headlining in
the 2010 Essence Music Festival and starring in the movie For Colored
Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf which is set
to be released in 2011.