Janet Jackson Biography

Janet Damita Jo Jackson, 16 May 1966, Gary, Indiana, USA. Jackson was the youngest of the nine children in the family that produced the Jackson Five (including Michael Jackson, Jermaine Jackson and LaToya Jackson). When she was four years old, the family moved to the Los Angeles area; three years later she made her performing debut in Las Vegas with her brothers. At the age of nine, she joined them on a television special. She was cast in the US television programmes Good Times from 1977-79 and Diff’rent Strokes from 1981-82. She signed to A&M Records in 1982 and recorded her self-titled debut album, followed by Dream Street in 1984. Both albums sold only moderately.

Jackson’s breakthrough came in 1986 when she hooked up with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to record Control, which reached number 1 and produced an astonishing five US Top 10 singles (including the chart-topping ‘When I Think Of You’) and three UK Top 10 singles. The album was ultimately certified quintuple platinum for sales of over five million copies in the USA. Jackson followed up in 1989 with the ambitious semi-concept album Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, another multi-platinum release that yielded the US chart-topping singles ‘Miss You Much’, ‘Escapade’, ‘Black Cat’, and ‘Love Will Never Do (Without You)’. Jackson undertook her first concert tour in 1990. By the end of the year she had scooped eight Billboard awards, including Top R&B Albums and Singles Artist, Best Pop and R&B Album Award for Rhythm Nation 1814, and Top Hot 100 Singles Artist. The success of the Rhythm Nation 1814 album continued into 1991 when, in January, Jackson became the first artist in history to have culled from one album seven Top 5 singles in the Billboard chart.

Jackson’s commercial peak continued into the 90s with the unprecedented performance of her Virgin Records’ debut Janet. , which entered the US album chart at number 1 in May 1993, beating brother Michael’s sales record by selling 350, 000 copies in its first week, and eventually went on to sell over seven million in the USA. Further US chart-topping singles included ‘That’s The Way Love Goes’ (number 1 for eight weeks) and ‘Again’, which were also UK bestsellers. The compilation album Design Of A Decade was another huge seller, and followed her collaboration with brother Michael on the single ‘Scream’.

In 1997, and now performing as simply Janet, Jackson released her first studio set in four years (and her first for new label Virgin Records), The Velvet Rope, a deeply personal album that dealt frankly with her much publicised emotional breakdown. The album entered the charts at number 1 in America, while the single ‘Together Again’ topped the Hot 100 in January 1998. A collaboration with BLACKstreet, ‘I Get Lonely’, was a US number 3 hit in May. Both tracks also reached the UK Top 5. ‘Doesn’t Really Matter’, a song featured in the soundtrack to Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, rose to the top of the US charts in August 2000 (Jackson also appeared in the movie). Jackson’s new studio album, All For You was premiered the following April by the chart-topping title track. The album was a more lightweight pop offering than its predecessor, but maintained the artist’s commercial ascendancy by selling over three million copies in the USA alone.

In February 2004, Jackson prompted a fit of moral outrage in America when, live on prime time television, her right breast was exposed by Justin Timberlake during a sexually-charged duet at the Super Bowl half-time show. The incident provided a healthy promotional boost for her new single, ‘A Little While’. The attendant Damita Jo was the singer’s best album since 1993’s Janet, reuniting her with Jam and Lewis and bringing in contemporary talent including Kanye West and Dallas Austin. The album failed to top the US chart, however, and although it went platinum the lack of any hit singles indicated a cooling of the American public towards the singer. Jackson collaborated with her boyfriend Jermaine Dupri alongside Jam and Lewis for the 2006 follow-up, 20 Y.O., although the general conseus was that the album demonstrated a further waning of the singer’s critical and commercial standing.

In summer 2007, Jackson announced that she had signed a new recording contract with Island Records. Later in the year she appeared in the US hit movie Why Did I Get Married? Her debut album for Island was released in March 2008, and saw the singer returning to the top of the US charts for the first time since 2001.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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