Inductee Insights: Janet Jackson
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Inductee Janet Jackson built a career so groundbreaking that she's immediately identifiable on a first name basis. Watch how Ms. Jackson seized her own identity and established herself as a creative visionary in our latest PNC Bank Inductee Insights episode.
Janet Jackson has built a career so groundbreaking that she’s immediately identifiable on a first-name basis. The youngest member of the Jackson family, she was first in the spotlight as a child actress on Good Times and Fame. Guided by her father/manager, Janet released two solo albums during her teenage years – but something was missing.
Fast forward to 1986 and her album Control. Working with production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Janet’s record went five times platinum. She ushered in the new jack swing era by fusing melodic dance-pop with aggressive hip-hop and industrial beats. Songs like “Nasty”, “Control” and “What Have You Done For Me Lately” staked her claim as an R&B powerhouse. Fans were introduced to a new Janet Jackson – free from the shadows of her family, seizing command of her own vision. Themes of empowerment and self-confidence the record and have remained staples of Jackson’s career.
Jackson’s lyrics and videos also explored social issues, including poverty, race relations, and drug use. 1989’s concept album Rhythm Nation 1814 resonated deeply and produced seven top five singles, including “Black Cat” and “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” and “Rhythm Nation.” Her highly stylized music videos also established Jackson as a fashion icon.
On 1993’s janet. she claimed more independence – shedding her last name entirely and serving as producer and songwriter on hits like “If,” “Again,” and “Any Time, Any Place”. That same year, Jackson earned rave reviews in the film Poetic Justice alongside fellow Rock Hall Inductee Tupac Shakur. Her 1997 album The Velvet Rope included the #1 hit “Together Again” – a touching tribute to a friend who had died from AIDS. The song’s message resonated with many, particularly those in the LGBTQ community.
Jackson’s 2015 album Unbreakable added to her longevity and was her first release under independent label Rhythm Nation Records. The album featured stars like J. Cole and Missy Elliot. Other first-name only stars like Usher, Aaliyah and Rihanna have been influenced by Janet’s creative and musical vision: her music videos, confessional lyrics, complex choreography, and theatrical stages are a part of her identity.
Jackson's music has won her 6 GRAMMY Awards, 2 Emmy Nominations, a Golden Globe Award, an Academy Award nomination, along with dozens of others. The list is long and keeps growing. With over 160 million records worldwide and #1 singles in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, she is one of the best-selling artists in history – an artist who’s sonic and visual style loom large.
"As the youngest in the family, I was determined to make it on my own. I wanted to stand on my own two feet, but never in a million years did I expect to follow in their footsteps. Tonight, your baby sister has made it in...I want to say a personal word to each and every fan. You’ve been with me every step of the way. In all my ups. All my downs. I never have and never will take you for granted. I love you with all my heart. Thank you so much.” - Janet Jackson