Excuse me, Ms Jackson

January 31, 2011

Janet Jackson is doing it all – and she’s doing it on her terms
“NO MATTER what may be thrown your way, never give up and always follow your gut instinct … It won’t steer you wrong.” Words Janet Jackson lives by. And it’s a philosophy that has served her well through the years.

It’s also a theme that runs through her book, True You: A Journey To Finding And Loving Yourself, a self-help book that’s filled with anecdotes and other life lessons that have helped the 45-year-old Ms Jackson get by.

“(True You) is not an autobiography. I do share personal anecdotes from my life because they help to explain what I was going through at the time,” she explained in an email interview with Today. “True You deals with my weight gain and loss … it’s about self-esteem. I wrote True You because I want to help people, especially the kids who are going through what I did when I was growing up.

“It took me a good minute to get here. It really did. But I love my life. I only wish I had this confidence when I was younger. I hope that when people read True You, they will know that they are not alone and that they can walk away after finishing it with more confidence.”

Fans going to her concert on Feb 7 can get a copy – a full week before it hits the bookshelves, by the way.

The lady has had one hell of a journey to get where she is. The youngest sibling of the ultra-famous Jackson brood actually started out as an actress, with recurring roles in the TV series Good Times and Fame, and playing Charlene Duprey on Diff’rent Strokes from 1981 to 1982.

But she couldn’t stay away from the musical groove for long. At 16, she released her self-titled debut, which was followed by the sophomore Dream Street (1984) – both of which received favourable but commercially mediocre response. It was with her third album, Control (1986), propelled by hit singles such as Nasty, What Have You Done For Me Lately and The Pleasure Principle, that the world finally noticed this young phenom. The follow-up, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, cemented the notion that she wasn’t just Michael’s baby sister any more.

And while Jackson has sometimes courted controversy with her sexuality – the album cover for janet., for example, featured her topless with a man’s hands cupping her breasts; and who can forget the “wardrobe malfunction” with Justin Timberlake? – she’s sold more than 100 million records worldwide and has been listed by the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) as the 11th best-selling female artiste in the United States. Last year, Billboard put her at No 5 on its list of Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists Of The Past 25 Years. It’s no mean feat and her fans know it, too.

But more importantly for fans in Singapore, she’s going to be performing next week at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. We managed to get her to spill the beans about returning to a place she’s not visited in almost two decades.

Janet, thanks for picking Singapore to be on your tour. It’s been a long time since we last saw you here.

Janet Jackson: It has been a long time. I was in Singapore for my JANET world tour. I remember how beautiful the city is and that everyone is so friendly. I had a great time and I am excited to get back to Singapore. I can’t believe it has been 18 years since I was there last. My fans helped me pick what cities I am going to be visiting on this tour so I have to thank them for letting me know they want me to come back.

I (have) created a more intimate show for Number Ones Up Close And Personal. We are not going to be using pyrotechnics this time and I am picking venues that will allow me to be closer to the fans. It’s just going to be me and my fans … Well, I’m bringing my dancers with me as well … I have to dance … LOL!

You’ve faced controversy over the years, yet you always seem to bounce back smiling. What’s your secret?

What controversy? LOL. I guess when you are creating music that is from your heart, you are not thinking about controversy … I just put it out there and hope my fans can relate to what I am going through and like what they hear.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in prepping for this tour?

Time! I have been so busy lately … I was in two movies last year, Why Did I Get Married Too and For Colored Girls, and I wrote my book. I am not good at multi-tasking, so trying to create a great show that my fans will enjoy will take much more time. It has been a great learning experience for me doing all of this at once, but it has been fun.

Another challenge was deciding what songs to put into the show and when. I have been working with my team, Gil our choreographer, Robert Behar our stylist … I am excited with how everything has turned out. I hope everyone has a great time at the show!

Is there a new album in the pipeline?

I have decided to go back into the studio this year … LOL! So much for not multi-tasking!

I’m not sure when or what it will be about yet. I am going to wait until I am in the studio and see what I am going through at the time. I want to create songs; I have always created songs that are inspired by what is going on in my life. I think it is more real … I hope my fans like what we create.

You’re an actor, singer, author … Is there anything that you haven’t done that you’d like to do?

There is so much more that I want to experience in my life and career. I couldn’t possibly list everything, but I would like to be in a Broadway show. I have a friend who was recently in one and he said that it is a whole different discipline and I would like to experience that.

How long would you like to continue doing what you do?

I love what I do. I can’t imagine retiring. I don’t know what it will involve but I know it will be a lot of fun whatever I do.

What’s the best thing about being Janet Jackson right now?

Going back to Singapore … LOL. I am very happy right now. Life is great.

And apart from answering our silly questions, what’s the worst thing about being Janet?

Why end there? I really liked your last question! We see so much negativity today. I am staying focused on all the great things that are happening. That is why I decided to acknowledge 20 young people under 20 years old that are doing great things in their community during my tour.

I hope everyone has gone to to nominate the five young people they know. The winners and the people who have nominated them will be my guest on Feb 7 at my concert. I am looking forward to having them come backstage so I can meet them and learn about what they are doing!

Janet Jackson performs Feb 7 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Tickets at $88 to $248 from Sistic. Janet Jackson’s The Best compilation album is out now in stores.

-Christopher Toh TODAYonline

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