With her entire family involved in the entertainment industry, it was only natural for Janet Jackson to follow suit. She started recording in the studio at a very young age. By the age of seven, she had performed in the ‘Las Vegas Strip’ at ‘MGM Casino.’
In 1976, Jackson began acting in the variety show ‘The Jacksons.’ The following year, she landed the role of ‘Penny Gordon Woods’ in the sitcom ‘Good Times.’ This was followed by a role in ‘A New Kind of Family,’ and a recurring role in ‘Diff’rent Strokes.’
At the age of 16, Jackson signed a contract with ‘A&M Records.’ Under the label, she released her debut album ‘Janet Jackson’ in 1982. The album peaked at number 63 on ‘Billboard 200’ and at number six on ‘R&B Albums’ chart.
In 1984, Jackson released her second album ‘Dream Street.’ The album was moderately successful, peaking at number 147 on ‘Billboard 200’ and at number 19 on ‘R&B Albums’ chart. Its lead single ‘Don’t Stand Another Chance’ peaked at number nine on Billboard’s ‘R&B Singles’ chart.
Continuous tiffs with her father led Jackson to walk away from his shadow. She then teamed up with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to come up with her third album ‘Control’ (1986) which became a major hit. The album peaked at number one on ‘Billboard 200’ and was certified five times platinum by the ‘RIAA.’ Also, it sold more than ten million copies worldwide.
‘Control’ gave Jackson her first breakthrough success. It not only spawned top five singles but also gave Jackson her first number one hit on the ‘Hot 100’ list. The album went on to receive six ‘Billboard Awards,’ including ‘Top Pop Singles Artist,’ and three ‘Grammy’ nominations. It also won four ‘American Music Awards’ from 12 nominations, the highest ever till date. ‘Control’ gained crossover pop appeal, giving Jackson her own identity.
Following the stupendous success of ‘Control,’ Jackson was persuaded by many to come up with its sequel. However, she refrained from bowing down to the pressure and instead came up with her fourth album ‘Rhythm Nation 1814’ which had a theme of social consciousness. Peaking at number one on ‘Billboard 200,’ the album was certified six times platinum by the ‘RIAA,’ and sold over 12 million copies worldwide.
Revolving around the theme of unity against crimes and tragedies, ‘Rhythm Nation 1814’ became the magnum opus of her career. It garnered positive response both critically and commercially. Furthermore, it became the only album to produce number one hits in three separate calendar years, and also the only album to produce seven top five singles on the ‘Hot 100’ list. ‘Rhythm Nation 1814’ became the highest selling album of 1990 and won 15 ‘Billboard Awards.’
In 1990, Jackson went on a ‘Rhythm Nation World Tour.’ It became the most successful debut tour in history, setting a record for the fastest sell-out of Japan's ‘Tokyo Dome.’ She used the proceeds of the tour to fund various educational programs.
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In 1991, Jackson’s contract with ‘A&M’ expired. Consequently, she signed a multi-million dollar deal with ‘Virgin Records’ which made her the highest paid recording artist at the time. She was also labelled ‘Queen of Pop.’
In May 1993, Jackson came up with her fifth studio album ‘Janet.’ (read as ‘Janet, Period’). The album opened at number one on ‘Billboard 200.’ It was certified six times platinum by the ‘RIAA,’ and sold more than 14 million copies worldwide. Its lead single ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’ topped the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ list for eight consecutive weeks.
When her music career was on the right track, Jackson started trying her hand at films. She made her film debut with ‘Poetic Justice’ in July 1993. Though the film was panned critically, her performance was appreciated and praised by the critics.
In 1995, she collaborated with her brother Michael Jackson for the song ‘Scream,’ which was the lead single from his album ‘HIStory.’ It debuted at number five on the ‘Hot 100’ singles chart, becoming his first song ever to debut within the top five. The same year, she came up with her first compilation album ‘Design of a Decade.’ Its single ‘Runaway’ became the first song by a female artist to debut at top ten of the ‘Hot 100’ list. The album was certified double platinum and sold more than ten million copies worldwide.
In 1996, Jackson renewed her contract with ‘Virgin Records’ for a whopping $80 million, making her the highest paid recording artist in history. While her professional graph was on the rise, her personal life was marred by depression and anxiety. Her sixth studio album reflected all of that as it chronicled her emotion and anxiety. Titled ‘The Velvet Rope,’ it debuted at number one on ‘Billboard 200’ and was certified triple platinum, selling over ten million copies worldwide.
‘Together Again,’ the lead single from ‘The Velvet Rope,’ became Jackson’s eighth number-one hit on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ chart. It spent a record 46 weeks on the ‘Hot 100’ chart and 19 weeks on the United Kingdom's singles chart. It sold six million copies worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. The album established Jackson’s reputation as a gay icon for its homosexuality theme.
Following the success of ‘The Velvet Rope’ album, Janet Jackson decided to go on ‘The Velvet Rope World Tour,’ touring all over the world. She then made her second appearance on the big screen for the film ‘Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.’ The movie was a major hit, eventually amassing $170 million worldwide. Her single ‘Doesn’t Really Matter,’ which was part of the movie, became her ninth number one single on ‘Hot 100’ list.
In 2001, Jackson came up with her seventh studio album ‘All For You.’ Imitating the success of its predecessors, the album opened at number one position on ‘Billboard 200.’ It sold an impressive number of copies in its first week, the highest by a female artist in history. It was certified double platinum by the ‘RIAA,’ and sold nine million copies worldwide. Jackson followed it up with a super hit tour of America and Japan.
At the ‘Super Bowl XXXVIII’ halftime show, held in February 2004, Jackson performed a medley of her super hit albums. While performing a duet with Justin Timberlake, she suffered a wardrobe malfunction. Subsequently, she was listed in ‘Guinness World Records’ as the ‘Most Searched in Internet History’ and the ‘Most Searched for News Item.’ The duo received a lot of flak from the critics and was blacklisted from radio and music channels.
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Following the controversial episode at ‘Super Bowl,’ Jackson came up with her eighth studio album ‘Damita Jo’ in March 2004. Though the album debuted at number two on ‘Billboard 200’ and was certified platinum by the ‘RIAA,’ it couldn’t replicate the success of her previous albums, thanks to the ‘Super Bowl’ fiasco!
In 2006, Jackson released her ninth studio album ‘20 Y.O.’ Despite having some foot-tapping numbers, it failed to rise above the ‘Super Bowl’ incident and was in fact overshadowed by it. Because it was blacklisted by music channels and radio airplay, the album was affected profoundly. Braving all odds, ‘20 Y.O.’ managed to receive a platinum certification from the ‘RIAA’ and also received a ‘Grammy’ nomination for ‘Best Contemporary R&B Album.’
When her musical career started to go in a downward spiral, Jackson focused on her acting skills and performed in the movie ‘Why Did I Get Married?’ It became her third film in a row to open at the top spot in the box office, grossing $60 million.
In 2008, Jackson signed a record deal with ‘Island Records.’ The same year, she released her tenth studio album ‘Discipline’ that opened at number one spot. Its lead single peaked at number 19 on the ‘Hot 100’ chart.
In 2009, she released a second compilation titled ‘Number Ones’ which comprised all her hits. Its single ‘Make Me’ became Jackson's nineteenth number one single on the ‘Hot Dance Club Songs’ chart, making her the first artist to have number-one singles in four separate decades.
The success of her film ‘Why Did I Get Married?’ led to the making of its sequel, ‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’ in which she reprised her role. Next, she was seen in the drama ‘For Colored Girls.’ Around the same time, she embarked on her largest world tour, ‘Number Ones: Up Close & Personal,’ covering 35 cities worldwide.
In 2015, Jackson initiated her record label, ‘Rhythm Nation,’ thus becoming one of the first African-American female musicians to own a record label. Under the label, she released a single ‘No Sleeep’ which landed the number one spot on Billboard and Twitter.
Jackson released her eleventh studio album ‘Unbreakable’ in October 2015. The album opened to positive reviews from critics and media channels. It debuted at number one position on ‘Billboard 200,’ becoming her seventh album to top the chart in the United States.
She then went on her ‘Unbreakable World Tour’ before taking a brief break to address her family concerns. She then resumed the tour under the moniker ‘State of the World Tour.’ In February 2019, she announced her first concert residency titled ‘Metamorphosis.’
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Other than being a musician, Jackson has also served as an entrepreneur and endorser. She endorsed the fashion line ‘Blackglama’ for two years, becoming the first celebrity in the brand’s history to do so. She even launched her own jewelry line. Also, she authored a self-help book titled ‘True You’ which chronicles her life and struggles. The book topped ‘The New York Times’ ‘Best Seller’ list.
Awards & Achievements
Janet Jackson is the third most awarded artist in history. Out of the 400 nominations that she has received so far in her illustrious career, she has won 208 awards, and the numbers are bound to increase in the coming years.
Some of the prestigious awards received by Jackson include 11 ‘American Music Awards,’ five ‘Grammy Awards,’ nine ‘MTV Video Music Awards,’ 13 ‘Soul Train Music Awards,’ and 11 ‘Billboard Music Awards.’ Of these, the most notable ones include American Music Award's ‘Award of Merit,’ Billboard Award's ‘Artistic Achievement Award,’ MTV's ‘Video Vanguard Award,’ Soul Train’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award,’ and Recording Academy's ‘Governor's Award.’
Internationally, she has earned TMF Awards' ‘Lifetime Achievement Award,’ MTV Japan's ‘Inspiration Award,’ and World Music Awards’ ‘Legend Award.’
Her humanitarian efforts have got her APLA's ‘Commitment to Life Award,’ amfAR's ‘Award of Courage,’ and GLAAD's ‘Vanguard Award.’ She was even honored with a ‘Humanitarian Award’ for her involvement in raising money for AIDS charities.
She has also received a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’ in recognition of her impact on the recording industry and philanthropic endeavors.
She was inducted into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ in 2019.