Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Janet Jackson is an icon. She is an Academy Award nominee, a New York Times Best Seller, a winner of multiple Grammy Awards, a trendsetter, a businessperson, and a gifted artist—songwriter/producer/singer/actor/dancer. She burst onto the scene with her record-setting album Control. Today she possesses an unprecedented list of achievements, and remains a true inspiration at the forefront of her craft. As an artist, Janet excites, enlightens, leads, and embraces her fans with insights into life’s meaning and our deepest feelings. She is ranked as one of the top ten best-selling artists in the history of contemporary music. Her musical style, choreography, lyrical exploration, and self-awareness have made her one of the top artists of our time and a leading influence on the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow.

Born Janet Damita Jo Jackson in Gary, Indiana, she accumulated the success and the stature to be addressed by just her first name, Janet. She began her career at the young age of seven when she appeared at the MGM in Las Vegas with her family in 1973. At fourteen she signed her first recording deal and launched the career that would change the history and direction of performance art and music.

By her third album, Control (1986), she had already begun to break records and set standards creating a musical fusion of pop, R&B, soul, dance, jazz, rock, and rap that continues today. Control won four American Music Awards out of twelve nominations—a record that she still holds—and was nominated for an Album of the Year Grammy. It was influential in expanding and developing the art of music video performance.

Her fourth album, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, targeted injustice, illiteracy, crime, drugs, and racial intolerance, all to a slamming beat that kept audiences intrigued and dancing. It is the only album ever to launch number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in three separate calendar years. It also brought Janet her first Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video for Rhythm Nation 1814.

Her next album, janet., explored love through sophisticated lyrics and swinging beats, immediately shot to number one, and reinvented Janet Jackson into Janet (period). The album brought her a second Grammy. The hit ballad “Again” won her first Golden Globe and Academy Award Nomination and was featured in the film Poetic Justice. The film re-launched Janet’s foray into acting and placed her in her first feature role, starring opposite Regina King and hip hop sensation Tupac Shakur. She has also starred in the box office smash, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Why Did I Get Married?, Why Did I Get Married Too?, and the motion picture adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s Obie Award-winning play, For Colored Girls, for which Janet received critical acclaim.

Janet’s albums The Velvet Rope, Damita Jo, 20 Y.O., and Discipline, not only topped the charts, but continued her exploration of life through music, always self-examining, always deeply honest. Janet released her Number Ones album, her second greatest hits compilation, in 2009. The double-disc album featured Janet’s 34 number one hit singles. In 2011, she launched her “Up Close and Personal, Number Ones” world tour, one of the most critically acclaimed and successful tours of her legendary career.

A chameleon of performance, Janet is widely known and admired for award-winning music videos. She is the only artist to receive Grammy nominations spanning the Dance, Pop, Rap, Rock, and R&B categories. She has received five Grammys and multiple MTV Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and Soul Train Music Awards to name a few. Her hit singles span various music charts across North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Africa. A highly regarded performer, her concerts are stunning shows that stimulate the mind, eyes, and the soul.

In 2001, MTV presented Janet with the inaugural MTV Icon Award, solidifying her accomplish­ments and effect on pop culture. Musical artists including Destiny’s Child, ‘N Sync, Outkast, Usher, and Pink were enlisted to recreate the music videos and performances of her classic hits in honor of her work, influence, and overall impact in the arena of music. The title of Icon con­tinues to be hers. In that same year, Janet published, True You, her first book and New York Times Best Seller, providing an intimate look at her life and how she has dealt with issues of self-esteem.

In 2010, Janet honored her brother Michael’s legacy and supported the people of Haiti by joining over 80 artists who collaborated to record “We Are the World 25 for Haiti,” the classic 1985 charity anthem re-imagined by Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones to support the earthquake relief efforts. It premiered during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games Opening Ceremony and is now an international number one download on iTunes.

Janet continues to focus on speaking out and giving back. Several of her tours have raised money for charities. She has supported numerous organizations including the Watts Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club of America, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, S.O.S. Children’s Villages in South Africa, UNICEF, and sponsored an airlift of food and medical supplies to famine-stricken Rwanda. She established the Rhythm Nation Scholarship with the UNCF and has assisted countless students striving to meet their educational goals.

She has been honored with many humanitarian awards for her dedication to helping others. Honors reflecting the range of her involvement in charitable and social causes include the 2004 Touching a Life Humanitarian and Philanthropic Award from the NBA, 2008 Humanitarian of the Year award from the Lisa Lopes Foundation, and the 2008 Vanguard Award from GLAAD. Janet’s efforts have also been recognized by AIDS Project L.A., the Congress for Racial Equality, and by the NAACP with their Chairman’s Award.

As an ambassador for amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, Janet chaired a gala charity event in Milan that raised more than a million dollars for AIDS research. “This battle needs all of us to be brave warriors,” Janet said during the dinner and dance. Through words and actions like these, she has set an example of generosity, empowerment, and tolerance, and has helped lead efforts to address some of society’s greatest challenges.