Janet Damita Jo Jackson had lots of family to love. She was born the 9th child in the Jackson family, with brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, Michael, and Randy and sisters Maureen and LaToya ahead of her. Janet's parents were very strict. No drugs or alcohol allowed. No dating until the 12th grade. No living away from home until marriage. The Jackson's didn't even have a phone for several years! Seems like a tough childhood, but Janet and her talented siblings grew up to entertain the entire world. What was Janet's big brother Michael Jackson really like? Read my Shvoong review on Michael's biography entitled Moonwalk
(see link below).
"What have you done for me lately?"
- song lyrics from the album Control (1986)
Billboard ranks Janet Jackson as the 9th most successful act in rock history. She is the 2nd most successful female artist in pop music history (behind Madonna). Believe it or not, Janet's first two solo albums FLOPPED! On her third project, Janet chose two of the hottest producers in the record industry, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. When her next album Control was released in 1986, it had 6 singles to hit #1 on the R&B charts. No more shy Janet. Miss Jackson had finally arrived.
"That’s the way love goes.”
– song lyrics from the album Janet (1993)
Janet's talent extends to acting as well. She performed a sassy Mae West impersonation on the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas (at the age of 7) to her role as Penny on the television show Good Times (1977-79) to her movies Eddie Murphy's film The Nutty Professor II: the Klumps
and Poetic Justice
with Tupac Shakur. Janet's co-star Tupac wrote powerful poetry. Read Tupac Shakur: The Rose That Great From Concrete
(see link below).
"I'm not the kinda girl who likes to be alone."
- song lyrics from "Miss You Much"; Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)
Janet sang that she did not like to be alone, but hers love life seemed as complex as some of her song lyrics. When she was only 18, she eloped with James DeBarge, who was from another singing family. That marriage lasted only 4 months. Then Janet secretly wed long-time boyfriend Rene Elizondo, a dancer and songwriter who had worked on some of Janet's albums. She and Elizondo later split in 1999.
While this biography is all too brief (only 32 pages), it does share some insight into the Janet not shown on stage or screen. For example, it tells how a young Janet missed big brother Michael so much when the Jackson 5 was touring that she could only find comfort with the family pets. Overall, this biography is a decent introduction to Janet Jackson and her accomplishments up to 2001. However, lifelong fans who know much about her already may find her 2009 autobiography The Best of Janet Jackson
more of a "Thriller."
About the Author
Kimberly Garcia is a bilingual journalist who writes for Hispanic, Vista, and Latina magazines.