Janet Jackson is a musician and actress, the youngest child of the iconic Jackson family and sister to Michael Jackson. Guided firmly by her father Joe Jackson into show business, she debuted on the Las Vegas Strip in 1973 (aged seven) and released her first solo record five years later. Since then, she has become an internationally celebrated singer and sex symbol.
Jackson was managed by her father for many years, but decided during the 1980s to “get out from under” him and take her professional career elsewhere. She began writing songs that were more socially conscious than the pop songs she’d recorded on her last album Dream Street, and released Control in 1986. Critics hailed it as a startling and sharp-tongued record, and Jackson established a reputation of her own almost overnight. No longer in the shadow of the Jackson 5, Janet was free to be her own artist.
Coasting into the 1990s on critical acclaim for her subsequent album Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, which went on to go multi-platinum, Jackson wasted no time in concluding her contract with A&M Records and signing a historic deal with Virgin Records worth up to $50 million. Her first album for Virgin, simply titled Janet, debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top 200 in 1993 and explored a new topic for Jackson: her sexuality. Songs like “Any Time, Any Place” and “That’s the Way Love Goes” referenced adult desires Jackson had never fully addressed before, but now felt confident facing head-on. She appeared topless on the cover of the September 1993 issue of Rolling Stone, marking her coming-of-age as a sex symbol in popular culture. In 1997, she made another reputation as a friend to the gay community with her album The Velvet Rope, which condemned homophobia and encouraged tolerance.
Janet Jackson has also appeared in films and television, including recurring roles on Good Times and Diff’rent Strokes and her film debut in Poetic Justice (in which she starred alongside rapper Tupac Shakur).