Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Known for a series of sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, as well as elaborate stage shows, television and film roles, she has been a prominent figure in popular culture for over 30 years. The youngest child of the Jackson family, she began her career with the variety television series The Jacksons in 1976 and went on to appear in other television shows throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, including Good Times and Fame.
After signing a recording contract with A&M Records arranged by her father and manager Joseph Jackson in 1982, she became a pop icon following the release of her third studio album Control (1986). Her collaborations with record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis incorporated elements of rhythm and blues, funk, disco, rap, and industrial beats, which led to crossover success in popular music. In addition to receiving recognition for the innovation in her records, choreography, music videos, and prominence on radio airplay and MTV, she was acknowledged as a role model for her socially conscious lyrics.
In 1991, she signed the first of two record-breaking, multimillion-dollar contracts with Virgin Records, establishing her as one of the highest paid artists in the industry. Her debut album under the label, Janet (1993), saw her develop a public image as a sex symbol as she began to explore sexuality in her work. That same year, she appeared in her first starring film role in Poetic Justice; since then she has continued to act in feature films. By the end of the 1990s, she was named the second most successful recording artist of the decade. The release of her seventh studio album All for You (2001) coincided with a celebration of her impact on popular music as the inaugural MTV Icon. After parting ways with Virgin she released her tenth studio album Discipline (2008), her first and only album with Island Records. In 2015, she partnered with BMG Rights Management to launch her own record label, Rhythm Nation Records. She received a nomination for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the same year.
Having sold over 160 million records, she is ranked as one of the best-selling artists in the history of contemporary music. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lists her as the eleventh best-selling female artist in the United States, with 26 million certified album. She has amassed an extensive catalog of hits, with singles such as “Nasty”, “Rhythm Nation”, “If”, “That’s the Way Love Goes”, “Together Again” and “All for You” among her most distinguished on records chart. She holds the record for the most consecutive top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 by a female artist with 18. In 2008, Billboard magazine released its list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, placing her at number seven, while in 2010, ranking her fifth among the “Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years”. One of the world’s most awarded artists, her longevity, records and achievements reflect her influence in shaping and redefining the scope of popular music. She has been cited as an inspiration among numerous performers.
Janet Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, the youngest of ten children, to Katherine Esther (née Scruse) and Joseph Walter Jackson. The Jacksons were lower-middle class and devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, although Jackson would later refrain from organized religion. At a young age, her brothers began performing as The Jackson 5. In March 1969, the group signed a record deal with Motown, and soon had their first number-one hit. The family then moved to the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles. Jackson had initially desired to become a horse racing jockey or entertainment lawyer, with plans to support herself through acting. Despite this, she was anticipated to pursue a career in entertainment, and considered the idea after recording herself in the studio, At age seven, Jackson performed at the Las Vegas Strip at the MGM Casino. A biography revealed her father, Joseph Jackson, was emotionally withdrawn, and told her to address him solely by his first name as a child. She began acting in the variety show The Jacksons in 1976. In 1977, she was selected to have a starring role as Penny Gordon Woods in the sitcom Good Times. She later starred in A New Kind of Family and later got a recurring role on Diff’rent Strokes, portraying Charlene Duprey from Seasons 3 to 6. Jackson also played the role of Cleo Hewitt during the fourth season of Fame, but expressed indifference towards the series. Jackson states her ethnicity is African American and Native American.
When Jackson was sixteen, her father and manager Joseph Jackson, arranged her a contract with A&M Records. Her debut album, Janet Jackson, was released in 1982. It was produced by Angela Winbush, René Moore, Bobby Watson of Rufus (band) and Leon F. Sylvers III, and overseen by her father Joseph. It peaked at number sixty-three on the Billboard 200, and number six on the publication’s R&B albums chart, receiving little promotion. Jackson’s second album, Dream Street, was released two years later. Dream Street reached one-hundred forty-seven on the Billboard 200, and number nineteen on the R&B albums chart. The lead single “Don’t Stand Another Chance” peaked at number nine on Billboard ’s R&B singles chart. Both albums consisted primarily of bubblegum pop music. Jackson eloped with singer James DeBarge in 1984, divorcing shortly afterwards, with the marriage annulled the following year.