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You know she's a Jackson. And you know she's a singer. Of course, you know the girl can dance. You know she's a leading lady in Hollywood. And maybe you still think of her as a cute little girl with a famous last name and big , bright eyes. Do you think she's what she was yesterday? Better think again. As many of her other fans and followers already know, the only label that fits her is… Janet.
Time flies when your having fun and that's the way she wants its. Since the grown Miss Jackson burst upon the music scene in 1986 with Control Selling eight million records and establishing her as a bold, sensual, independent woman, she's been breaking the molds and banishing the stereotypes the world would set for her. She's not just the cute, little girl- actress we loved on "Good Times" and "Different Strokes" or the earnest teen we followed of "Fame." She's not the Jackson family's baby-not any more. Clearly, the only thing you can safely say about her is that she's Janet.
And that's saying a lot. Consider that she's already appeared in five television series, made seven albums, and starred in a major motion picture. She's sold over 24 million albums worldwide, achieved five Top Five hits from her 1986 record, Control and a record seven Top Five Hits from the 1989 Rhythm Nation 1814 album, four went to no.#1. She followed that up with a record breaking world tour, a movie and her self-titled album Janet.
You might think that a woman with a pedigree and resume as impressive as this would have had a smooth ride all along. Not so. Says Janet, "I went through a great deal of pain from about sixteen to nineteen and a half… Pain that I really wouldn't wish upon anyone." During those years, challenging years for anyone, Janet released two albums, Janet Jackson (1982) and Dream Street (1984). She spent a difficult and lonely year away from her family in New York while appearing in "Fame," and by the time she was nineteen, had been through a divorce after a short-lived marriage to James DeBarge of another somewhat less famous singing family, the DeBarge Family.
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Many pop stars, having found a formula that worked, would be content to make more of the same. But when Rhythm Nation 1814 hit charts in 1989, a different , more mature, more confident Janet Jackson announced herself. Having established her own artistic identity, Janet looked outside herself. Of course, there are still some very personal songs on this record, and very sexy ones such as "Black Cat," but more that that, the songs of Rhythm Nation 1814 reflect her long held concern for the state of society and the place of the individual in that society. Rhythm Nation 1814 won praise, not just because its a great record to listen to with hard-hitting dance tunes, heart felt lyrics and visually stunning videos, but because it is an uplifting collection of songs. unlike so many "issue oriented" albums, Rhythm Nation 1814 didn't just point out the problems, it struck a note of hope. Making such a difference album is a risk for any artist but this one paid off. Like Control, Rhythm Nation 1814 sold eight million copies, but more remarkably, the album set a new record by placing seven singles in the Billboard Top Five. Her Rhythm Nation tour a nine month marathon, played to nearly two million delighted fans and raised, through a percentage of ticket sales, nearly $400,000 for the cities in schools program.
With unprecedented success like that, Twelve Top Five singles from two albums of work, most artists might be forgiven for going right back to what works and making more of the same music for a public that is clearly hungry for it. But not Janet…
Rather than follow up immediately on the success of the Rhythm Nation 1814 album and tour, Janet decided to do something different. She took a starring role in the film Poetic Justice. That shouldn't be a surprise from a woman who says of herself, "What interests me most is trying to do things that haven't been done before." And this project was too right to pass up. In a role actually written for her by award-winning director of Boyz in the hood, John Singleton, a childhood friend, Janet plays the starring role she found to be very close to home. Janet credits her experience in that role with helping her to further reveal herself in her work. She says the character she portrayed, "I Found we had a lot in common. No matter how wealthy you are and no matter how poor you are, love is love and pain is pain. Its still the same feeling.
And so came janet.,her most personal most sexual album. "This time I wanted to make an album that focused on love and all its ups and downs." janet., the album and tour, brought together influences from such diverse artist as Antonio Gaudi, a 19th Century Spanish architect, opera diva Kathleen battle and rapper Chuck D from Public Enemy. janet. is an exquisite fifty minuet melting pot that is as much a statement of who Janet is now as much as a statement of what the world could be-a tightly knit harmony uniting new and old, funky, and classic, sexy and smart, techno and soul to make something that defies categories-just as Janet does.
This past Saturday (Oct.10th) I attended Janet Jackson's latest tour titled "The Velvet Rope" which included a combination of Janet's old, and new hits which build into a two and a half hour show that show cases her life growing up. It was an excellent tour and I would recommend it to anyone.