JANET JACKSON on being a Jackson and missing Michael
There are many places you might expect to find an A-list star in the music industry, but soon enough you’ll find her right here, in our midst in the United Arab Emirates, courtesy of FLASH.
Yes, this is a place that you may wander without the star-spotting tourists who wander and seek out wide-eyed into souvenir shops selling Michael Jackson memorabilia, but one none-the-less that has been host to so many amazing artists of late.
Well, for now, Michael’s youngest sister, and six-time Grammy Award-winner, will be taking to the stage in Abu Dhabi at Yas Island, as part of her Number Ones, Up Close and Personal tour on 13 October 2011.
Janet Jackson appears on what is her sixth world tour and will be singing songs from her second compilation album. “These concerts will be different from anything I have ever done,” she said ahead of the tour. “I will be as up close and personal as possible. These concerts are not about special effects. This is a love affair between me and those of you who have supported me, and my work for all these years. I’ll be singing and dancing from my heart. The music will all be songs that you’ve made number one for me.”
Given the intense scrutiny the Jackson family is under following the loss of its most famous member, things seem to have naturally taken their course, except of course the ongoing trail proceedings that currently occupy the news wires.
Since she appeared on stage with the Jackson 5 at the age of seven, all people have done is peer gloomily at Janet Damita Jo Jackson’s professional and private life. “Certain aspects of fame aren’t easy, but I’ve been fortunate,” the 45-year-old says of life in front of the lens. “There are always paparazzi, but there are restaurants or places that they don’t know you frequent. And the people there are loyal, so they stay quiet.”
Unlike some of her siblings, Jackson knows about discretion. Since Michael’s passing, she has been the quietest of the clan. Generally, despite a celebrated singing career that has ranged from the celebrated to the provocative, she has kept her private life just that. In fact, nobody (from the media) knew she had married the choreographer René Elizondo in 1991 until they divorced in 2003. Her relationship with the producer Jermaine Dupri (after 7-years), which is also past news now, was also kept relatively clear of tabloid razzmatazz. In fact, if you haven’t received the recent tweets, Janet is presently dating Qatari Wissam Al Man, whom is the young managing director of Al Mana Retail, a luxury corporate group in our nick of the woods.
“I think, to this day, people view me as a very shy person,” she says. “I don’t think I’m shy. I’m just quiet until I get to know you. I sit back and I watch and I observe. Though I’m someone that loves life, loves to have fun – I love being around my family. And I’m ambitious.”
Driven she absolutely is. She wrote her first song at nine, appeared on the family variety show the same year and signed a recording deal at 14. Jackson took full charge of her career on her 1986 album ‘Control,’ when she began writing, producing and playing keyboards by ear.
If ‘Control,’ was about cutting the apron strings, 1989’s multiplatinum-seller ‘Rhythm Nation 1814’ saw Jackson develop a social conscience. As well as politics, she has drawn inspiration from all manner of places: “I used to watch a lot of MGM movies.” She is also an unlikely fan of that mammary-mad British comedian Benny Hill. “I love [him]. When I was in school, I would watch it before going to sleep.” [ed.: it’s well documented that when Benny Hill was down and out, broke and desolate, Michael Jackson was one of the few who visited the comedian before he passed away).
Having sold more than 100 million albums, Jackson has had an impact on popular culture that shouldn’t be underestimated. This was a young black woman who wrote, sang and produced much of her music, and whose cutting-edge choreography continues to inspire the newer generation of acts.
Cheryl Cole, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera have cited her as an inspiration. “She was one of the first female pop icons that I could relate to,” says Rihanna. “She was so vibrant, she had so much energy. She still has power. I’ve seen her on stage, and she can stand there for 20 minutes and have the whole arena scream at her. You have to love Janet.”
It does, however, take time for her to be drawn on the topic of Michael. She finally opens up when pressed by saying that she saw her brother two days before his death, and for months after avoided watching television, but his image is impossible to escape. “You know, a day doesn’t go by where you don’t think about him,” she says. “It’s always there, in every sense. But it will get better. It’s not easy, but I know with time it will get easier.” She stops. “But it will never be easy. It’s my brother.”
What motivates her to keep going? Surely she could sit back, admire the awards, the accolades, the achievements? “I think it’s just passion. That’s all it is. Would you do it for free, that’s the question. And if you’re passionate enough, you will. That’s what I think the secret to success is. You don’t want to stop, so, as long as you can, you keep going.” She pauses. “I don’t look back, I just try to keep going.”