By Melinda Newman
Janet Damita Jo Jackson has been in the spotlight since the age of 10, when she appeared on the TV show The Jacksons with her famous brothers. More than 40 years later, she reveals a side of herself never before seen during her exclusive Park MGM residency, Metamorphosis.
Featuring electrifying visuals and explosive dance numbers, Metamorphosis is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Jackson’s groundbreaking Rhythm Nation 1814 and takes fans through the GRAMMY Award-winning global icon’s journey to self-love, empowerment, motherhood and activism.
After playing sold-out arenas for decades, Jackson told M life magazine that her residency at Park MGM’s intimate Park Theater gives her a chance to make a deeper connection with fans. “In an intimate setting, I feel like I’m having a conversation with each person in that room. The energy is that much stronger.”
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which welcomed Jackson in March as a member of its 2019 Class, said “Janet Jackson has built a career so groundbreaking that she’s immediately identifiable on a first-name basis. She explored social issues, themes of empowerment and self-confidence, and influenced generations with her stylized music videos with innovative choreography.”
She admits that self-confidence did not come easily. In 2018, Jackson told Billboard, “Like millions of other women, I’ve struggled with low self-esteem. I believe in all methods of help – smart psychology, vigorous exercise and sincere spirituality. In my world, God is expressed through music. It’s music, and its divine source, that gifts me with the knowledge that harmony is still possible.”
The youngest of nine children, she starred in the TV series Good Times and Fame while in her teens. But music was her true calling and she signed with A&M Records in 1982. With her first two albums, 1982’s Janet Jackson and 1984’s Dream Street, Jackson landed four top 20 songs on the R&B charts, but that modest success barely hinted at what was to come.
For her third album, 1986’s Control, she paired with songwriters and record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, with the combination proving to be historic. “I wanted this album to be my success, not my family’s,” she told Spin magazine. “And Jimmy and Terry helped me get it.”
Fusing soul, funk, disco and pop, Billboard wrote of Control: “Not only was Jackson’s maiden voyage with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis at the forefront of R&B, pop and hip-hop’s intersection, it birthed a novel sound in the process.”
Bolstered by such hits as “What Have You Done for Me Lately,” “Nasty” and “When I Think of You,” the album became her first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than 5 million copies.
Next came her masterwork, 1989’s groundbreaking Rhythm Nation 1814. The ambitious project, which once again teamed Jackson with Jam and Lewis, combined social consciousness with musical adventurousness. The album hatched seven Top 10 singles, including the title track “Escapade,” “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” and “Miss You Much” and catapulted Jackson to superstardom.
Jackson turned inward, on 1993’s janet. The album “had a deeply sensual edge because that’s what I was going through in my life,” Jackson told Billboard and spawned six Top 10 hits, including “That’s the Way Love Goes,” “Again” and “Any Time, Any Place.”
Working again with Jam and Lewis, Jackson wrote all the lyrics for the album, and stepped up her involvement by co-producing each song. Jackson’s 1997 album, the often dark The Velvet Rope, became her 4th consecutive set to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Throughout the 2000s, Jackson continued to release albums, starting with 2001’s All for You and 2004’s Damita Jo, both of which showed a lighter side.
“When an artist loses her sense of humor or her feeling for pure fun, something goes missing,” she told Billboard. “Every once in a great while, I have to go back and bring out that little girl inside of me who can simply blow off steam and try to spread joy. As someone who has battled depression, that’s not only important, it’s vital. Sometimes purely happy music is the best medicine I can ingest.”
Jackson continues to be a proven hitmaker, while continuing to expand her musical explorations. In October, Jackson earned her 20th No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart with “Made for Now,” featuring Reggaeton star Daddy Yankee.
For all her accolades, Jackson considers “being a mama” her greatest achievement. “It’s taught me what really is important in life. It is the most fulfilling and rewarding role in my life. My son is my gift from God.”
As for the future, when asked what she is looking most forward to, Jackson tells M life, “Being a mama again, God willing.” But first, there’s Metamorphosis. “I want them to walk away inspired, empowered. Whomever they desire to become, whatever they dream to achieve, can come to fruition with the love and strength of God,” she said.
For tickets and more information, visit mgmresorts.com.