Janet Damita Jo Jackson is the youngest children in her family born on May 16, 1966 in Gary, Indiana to Joseph and Katherine. Since she was 2, her older brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael Jackson had already begun to perform onstage at nightclubs and theaters. Named themselves the Jackson Five the siblings later on, at the end of 1968, signed to Motown Records and by the end of the following year, they recorded their first of four history-making #1 singles, "I Want You Back." By the time the J5 had achieved success, the whole family moved out of Gary into the more sunnier atmosphere of Southern California, eventually settling in a gated mansion they named Hayvenhurst in 1971. At this point Janet was still 5 years old.
Born into a family of show-business icons, Janet has gone on to become an icon herself. Rising out of the shadows of her family to attain worldwide fame and most importantly breaking away from the distinction of just being Michael's baby sister she had successfully proven her vocal quality. To begin, by the age of 7 Janet had been dreaming to be a horse jockey concerning a growing infatuation with horses. Yet, her father who previously realized the impact of a changing musical scene to J5 dwindle career, had decided to put his entire family to work as entertainers and thus he had had a bigger plan for Janet than just be a horse jockey. As fate would have it the wish came true, as in April 1974, the 7-year-old Janet made her public debut performance at a Las Vegas nightclub with nearly all nine members of the Jackson family. Fortunately, Jacksons could easily become the star of the shows, emulating and imitating various icons, such as Cher and Mae West, in particular. By 1976 Janet and the family's Vegas act got the attention of CBS' Fred Silverman who was desperately trying to find a new variety act after "Sonny & Cher" had ended while ABC had the competing "Osmonds" family show featuring Donny and Marie. After a deal with Fred Silverman, on June 16, 1976 Jacksons debuted "The Jacksons" made them the first African-American family to have a variety show on TV. Sadly the show lasted only two seasons and was canceled in 1977.
At the time Janet was 11 years old her talent was spotted by legendary TV producer Norman Lear, who was looking for someone to help gain back ratings in one of his groundbreaking shows, the family sitcom, "Good Times." Performing the role of an abused child named Penny, she easily stole public attention that helped her to get a starring member role by the end of the 1977 to 1978 season, held her remained in the show until it was canceled for good in 1979. As time went by, Janet continued her acting career appearing briefly in a short-lived sitcom entitled "A New Kind of Family", which in early 1980 was also canceled. A year later, in 1981 she got a chance playing in another family sitcom, "Diff'rent Strokes." Co-starring Todd Bridges, who played Willis, the now 15 years old Janet officially became a teen idol mainly for the Charlene Duprey role she played in the show. Along with her acting career she also started to enter music world, which her father at first surely opposed. And it was his order for the 18 year old Janet to take the role of Cleo Hewitt in "Fame" that sent her back in the TV field by 1984. In fact, in 1985 she finally left the show and headed to music production. Deeply in love to music, Janet had started writing her first song since she was nine, but she never aspired herself to be a professional singer anyway. Nevertheless, she agreed to participate in music just to help her family out. Thus Janet had her very first recording in 1978, which was a duet with baby brother Randy on a song titled "A Love Song for Kids."
From that time Janet would sometimes participate in her family's other recordings, particularly with sister LaToya and brother Michael, before in 1981 she and her two older sisters LaToya and Rebbie had wanted to start their own musical group, but disagreements between the older sisters forced the group to disband without ever making a record. In hearing Janet's voice, her father Joseph finally changed his mind and asked her to start a singing career. Was uncomfortable of being in the recording studio Janet felt that she wasn't as talented vocally as her brothers, particularly brother Michael, who was becoming a pop superstar thanks to his albums, "Off the Wall" and "Thriller." It was at the age of 16 when Janet released her debut album simply called "Janet Jackson", which was protested by the teenagers who insisted that her last name shouldn't be on the cover. Produced by soul singers Angela Winbush, Rene Moore and Leon Slyvers of the famed Slyvers family music group, the album had reached #6 on the Billboard R&B album charts, and spent 45 weeks in the Top 50 and hit #63 on the Billboard Pop albums chart. Moreover, the album also held 3 Top 20 Billboard R&B singles "Young Love" (#6), "Say You Do" (#15), and "Come Give Your Love To Me" (#17) and that two of the singles "Young Love" and "Come Give Your Love to Me" had respectively went as high as #64 and #58 on the Billboard pop charts. Above all, the CD had been sold over a quarter million copies in the US, because of which Billboard Magazine gave Janet the distinction as being the tenth biggest-selling R&B artist at the end of 1982, while the debut album was given the distinction of being the tenth biggest-selling R&B album of 1983.
Despite her modest success, Janet indeed faced an obstacle for having to compete with brother Michael for pop music prominence after his success with his "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" albums. Stand still, she could then in 1984 released her 2nd album "Dream Street", which is a musical progression from her debut, with a more funky, up-tempo and famed disco. Unfortunately, this album only peaked at #147 on the Billboard pop album charts when it was released that July, the same hold true as the album overall only sold half of what Janet self-titled debut sold. In line with her 2nd album failure, many critics judged her career as a "pop star over before it actually began." Around the same time, Janet fell in love with James DeBarge, member of the Motown family group DeBarge, whom she eloped with on September 7, 1984 but then annulled it on November 18, 1985 with DeBarge's drug habit cited as the reason. Got depressed either with the dissolution or her famous family, Janet started to look for her own place to live in.
Learning from Janet's two previous albums that weren't too success, her management started to think a move towards a far more funk and R&B sound which they hoped would improve her career. Such idea caused Janet, in a 1993 interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, said the move and the recruitment of producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, which actually met much resistance from her family, especially her manager-father. Joseph had reportedly told the two producers to not have his daughter sounding like Jackson family rival Prince. Shortly after, Janet produced her 3rd album named "Control" which themes explore her attempt in becoming a professional who is gaining a personal independence and self-assertion through the personal decision she individually makes and responsible for. As a matter of fact, the lyrics of the title track "Control" that yielded her frustrations and her early marriage had led the album to number one on both the Pop #1 for 2 weeks and R&B charts #1 for 6 weeks. The album's first single, "What Have you Done For Me Lately" had gained massive radio airplay, went on to #4 on the Billboard Top 100 and #1 on the R&B Singles chart. Even more, six of the album's nine tracks were released as singles, five of which went on to the Top 5 of the Pop charts, with Janet achieving her first #1 pop single for the song of "When I Think Of You." What a great achievement that "Control" had favorably sold over ten million copies worldwide; won 6 Billboard Awards, including Top Selling Pop Singles Artist and Top Selling Black Singles Artist; 3 Soul Train Awards, including Album Of The Year; 3 MTV Video Music Awards; 4 American Music Awards; and was nominated for 3 Grammy Awards, including Album Of The Year. One of the many singles included in "Control", which title "When I Think Of You," in addition, had made Janet the youngest artist at her 19 years age to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart since Stevie Wonder.
After the hiatus, which prevented her to release any album until 1989, merely caused by the release date was pushed back several times as she, along with Jam and Lewis, struggled to commit their ideas to record, A&M Records associates surprisingly asked the 23-year-old Janet to do a sequel to the hugely-successful "Control" album. Yet she wanted to do something else and the result was "Rhythm Nation 1814" album for which she explained "Control was about my life; Rhythm Nation is about what's going on in the world around us." That's the reason why Janet drew most of the album inspiration from socially conscious artists, such as Marvin Gaye, U2, Tracey Chapman, Bob Dylan and that it consists of songs with a more challenging themes, truthfully harder than that on "Control," which are about drugs, homelessness, education and prejudice. Soon after it's released, "Rhythm Nation 1814" favorably hit #1 on Pop and R&B charts, spawning four US number ones and a further three Top 5 hits. Furthermore, it also went to sell even more than its predecessor overall reaching 12 million, made Janet to win a total 14 Billboard Music Awards, including Top Selling Album of 1990 and 5 Soul Train Awards. In addition, she also won a Grammy for the "Rhythm Nation" mini-movie, 2 NAACP Image Awards, 3 MTV Video Music Awards, and 5 American Music Awards. Besides, Rhythm Nation 1814's single Miss You Much had also become the longest running #1 single of 1989, set Janet a record by becoming the first and only artist ever to score 7 Top 5 hits from one album. To follow up the hit, the singer held a 1990 massive world tour named "The Rhythm Nation World Tour" that became the biggest and most successful debut tour by any artist in history. Seen by over 2 million people worldwide, the tour ran a full nine months and performed over 120 shows, with tickets to the Tokyo Dome concert sold out in only 7 minutes, made a new record in Japan.
By the time Janet's contract with A&M had run out, that was in 1991, numerous labels tried to get her. Yet, she chose to deal with Virgin Records for a reported $50 million settled on March 11, 1991 that obviously became the biggest recording deal in music history during that period of time. A year after, throughout 1992, Janet recorded a duet with Luther Vandross singing "The Best Things In Life Are Free" song taken from the movie, "Mo'Money". The duet became a #1 R&B hit for the duo and was nominated for a Grammy award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
In 1993, Janet once again turned her attention to acting and took part in John Singleton's "Poetic Justice," playing the role of a young African-American poet and hairdresser named Justice. Failed in getting public admission through her performance in the movie, she 'favorably' earned the Worst New Star award at the 1993 Golden Raspberry Awards, though she did win two MTV Movie Awards for Best Female Performance and Most Desirable Female. Since that time Janet realized that she could find better success in movie only as singer and songwriter rather than an actor, which was obviously seen as her ballad "Again", though not on the soundtrack album and only featured on her "janet." album, had given her both Golden Globe and Oscar award nominations for Best Original Song. Following the defeat, in the same year Janet released "janet." album, which according to many of her fans was her sex album, mostly like a love letter to her new husband and long-time friend Rene Elizondo, whom she married with on March 31, 1991 just to avoid press speculation said he had co-written many of the tracks on "janet." To make the things clear, Janet and her longtime producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis claimed Elizondo only gave "ideas for a particular song" and that he only made an important contribution to the album cover where he covered Janet's breasts while she looked seductively through just jeans on. A part from the issue, "janet." which reflected its singer metamorphosis, had become the first album by a female artist to enter the Billboard Top 200 albums charts at #1 during the Soundscan era. It also became the fastest selling album at that time, selling 350,000 copies in the US in its first week and 950,000 worldwide. Afterwards, "janet." spawned six top ten singles, two of which hit the top spot and a two years world tour quickly followed to make the album's success even more complete.
By the 1995, Janet recorded the duet "Scream" with brother Michael that reached the Top Five on the Pop and R&B charts and which video became the most expensive video ever, costing around $7 million. The video, indeed, won the Jacksons a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video. At the same year, A&M Records released Janet's first greatest hits album, titled "Design of a Decade: 1986-1996", features all hits from her "Control" and "Rhythm Nation 1814" albums. Also include in the greatest hits album are the two new recordings; "Runaway", which reached #3 on the Pop charts and #6 on the R&B charts; and "Twenty Foreplay" which reached #36. One year later Janet re-negotiated her deal with Virgin Records for a reported $80 million, making her the highest paid recording artist of all time. And after spending most of 1996 in seclusion caused by such depression, she shortly completed work on her new album, "The Velvet Rope", released in October and spoke of her sadness, pain, depression and yet also encouragement. Not many singles were released except the AIDS-dedicated, dance anthem "Together Again" and the sexy, slinky and funky "I Got Lonely," but this album's "Gone" and the funky and lyrically frank "Go Deep" had become radio favorites. Later on Janet was recruited by rapper Busta Rhymes to sing on " What's It Gonna Be?!" song taken from his 1998 album, "E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front." Thanks to the steamy video featuring her that the song became an instant smash reaching #3 Pop, and #1 R&B and Rap. Besides, it was also be the first song from hers to be on the rap charts and would later be nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group made her the first and only artist to be nominated in the Pop, R&B, Dance, Rock and Rap fields of the Grammy awards and be the only artist to have a charted single on those charts including the Adult Contemporary charts where she reached #1 with 1990's "Come Back to Me."
Next Janet hit the charts by collaborating with R&B group Blackstreet, who had appeared in a remix version to her 1998 hit "I Get Lonely," on the track "Girlfriend/Boyfriend." In the near future she recorded a duet with Elton John for his "AIDA" soundtrack, which song "I Know The Truth" as a touching ballad, had represented Janet's ever-growing versatility as an artist. As time went by, she kept working on her career writing, producing and recording a song for a Pepsi promotional campaign in Europe. Seven years since her last acting, the 34-year-old Janet made a return to the box office with the release of the Eddie Murphy vehicle, "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" in 2000, where she portrays Professor Denise Gaines, who falls in love with Sherman Klump played by Murphy, and learns to deal with his difficulty and outrageous family. Though didn't get much praise despite the movie great success, still Janet felt proud mainly because the single "Doesn't Really Matter" had become her first #1 of the new millennium, made her the first artist to have a number one single in the '80s, '90s and 2000's. During the release date of "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" in 2000, there were rumors saying Janet had split from her husband of nine years, Rene Elizondo, which actually legalized on March 13, 2000.
In the process of working on her next album, Janet urged Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis in purpose of offering something new to her fans, because of which she added hip-hop producer Rockwilder as part of her new production team and excluded now former husband Rene Elizondo. Such collaboration spawned the release of "All for You" album, which was much more upbeat than the previous "Velvet Rope", containing songs dealing about romance, sex and the single life. This album was sold over 600,000 copies in its first week released, an improvement on previous performances, and the highest 1st week of sales for one of her albums. Moreover, the LP's title track was also become Janet's second biggest hit to date, reaching #1 for 7 weeks with the album second single "Someone To Call My Lover" hit the Top 5 of the Pop charts. To support this album success, the is now rocketing singer held a sell-out European tour with additional extra tour dates around the USA and the Japanese. After the tour, Janet returned to the studio to feature on NSYNC singer Justin Timberlake's song "(And She Said) Take Me Now", and Beenie Man's "Feel It Boy," which album's lyrics very blatantly promote the violent attack on and killing of homosexuals obviously caused Janet's fans protest. The more fame and popularity she got had caused many speculation saying she was romantically linked to seemingly everyone from longtime friend, like R&B singer and New Edition member Johnny Gill, rapper Q-Tip, actor Matthew McConaughey and Timberlake. However, the rumors were proven not true when she later on stepped out with music mogul Jermaine Dupri.
What a worst nightmare for Janet when she, unluckily, caused what Justin called as "wardrobe malfunction" happened during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII on February 1, 2004. That was during this dancing and singing live performance in front of more than 100 million people when Janet's top was accidentally torn open by Justin, exposing her right breast. Though both claimed it as purely unplanned incident, still it affected Janet's career a lot because it had seemingly become the beginning of Janet's career end, proven as her 8th album "Damita Jo" was not as commercially successful as her previous efforts. It failed to hit the Billboard Top 40 on the pop charts, the first Janet single to do so since the early '80s that MTV and VH1 ultimately declined to show the video. Even though "Damita Jo" didn't live up to her past album sales, it didn't bother members of the recording company and some award shows to recognize the singer, who on December 7, 2004 NARAS announced to earn two Grammy nominations for that album, one for Contemporary R&B Album the Year, and another for her single "I Want You" in the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category. Despite all, Janet has proven herself to be a qualified singer for she once received an American Music Award nomination for Favorite R&B/Soul Artist, nominations as Best Female R&B singer at the Source Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards, BET Awards, and she eventually garnered Platinum status in the U.S. with total sales of the record reached three million copies worldwide.
In 2005, troubles still haunted Janet's life as she faced a $120 million lawsuit filed by Bronx resident, Leonard Salati. The man claimed to be allegedly choked and dragged down the step of the Marquee club on February 4 by two of her "uncontrolled" bodyguards. Before the case was settled, a shocking statement about her came up to the surface by October when Young DeBarge, the brother of her former husband, James, claimed that she has a secret daughter named Renee. After a few days, she slammed down the report, firmly saying that the allegation was untrue as she really did not have a child. Off the drama, Janet made another attempt in music by releasing "20 Y.O." in September 2006. Better than the previous record, this album debuted at #2 in Billboard's album chart and was nominated for "Best Contemporary R&B Album" in 2006 Grammy Awards. With the completion of "20 Y.O." came the end of her contract with Virgin Records. The singer then turned to Island where boyfriend Dupri served as the CEO. She officially joined the label in July 2007 and has been working on a new album with producer Anthony "L.A. Reid".
In 2008, Jackson released her tenth studio album, "Discipline" , which became her sixth release to top the Billboard 200, despite another tumultuous artist-label relationship.
Although Jackson didn't release another album for seven years, the longest gap in her discography was filled with professional activity and major life changes. During the filming of "Why Did I Get Married Too?", she learned of her brother Michael's death. Soon after, she and Dupri split, and she toured in support of "Number Ones", a double-disc anthology promoted with the number one club hit "Make Me". She took the lead role in the big-screen adaptation of "For Colored Girls", published a book and remained deeply connected to various causes as a philanthropist. In 2015, she returned on her own Rhythm Nation label with "No Sleeep," a slow-jam Jam and Lewis collaboration that hit the R&B Top 20 and primed her audience for a tour and the release of her 11th studio album, "Unbreakable".