Evo­lu­tion the­ory

Michael Jack­son’s su­per­star sis­ter was never go­ing to let oth­ers take con­trol of her des­tiny, writes Nui Te Koha

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

TWENTY-five years have passed since Janet Jack­son first as­serted she was in com­mand.

‘‘ It’s all about con­trol,’’ she says on her break­through al­bum Con­trol. ‘‘ And I’ve got lots of it.’’ It cer­tainly seemed that way. By then, Jack­son had eloped with, mar­ried and split from singer James De Barge. She had also sev­ered man­age­ment ties with her fa­ther Joseph.

But Con­trol, with hits in­clud­ing Nasty, What Have You Done For Me Lately, The Plea­sure Prin­ci­ple and When I Think of You, con­firmed Jack­son, the youngest child in the fa­mous mu­si­cal dy­nasty, had taken charge of her life.

Jack­son ( pic­tured) a su­per­star for four decades, now 45, re­flects on those times.

‘‘ I was a young adult com­ing into my own and wanted to carve my own niche in the world,’’ she says.

‘‘ I wanted to be in con­trol of my life, my loves, my song, my dance. But I have so much that I still want to ac­com­plish. ‘‘ I am con­tin­u­ing to evolve.’’ We are at Lon­don’s Royal Al­bert Hall, where Jack­son’s lat­est tour, Num­ber Ones: Up Close and Per­sonal, per­fectly show­cases her su­per­star evo­lu­tion.

The show is ex­actly what it says – a great­est hits set at close range, in in­ti­mate venues Jack­son has never played be­fore.

‘‘ It’s been so much fun to per­form for the fans in this way,’’ she says.

‘‘ I can see ev­ery­one’s faces dur­ing the show and I get so much en­ergy from them.’’

The set list runs the full gamut of No. 1 hits in­clud­ing Miss You Much, Al­right, That’s the Way Love Goes, Rhythm Nation

and All for You.

Jack­son, a troupe of dancers and un­re­lent­ing vi­su­als keep the show at full pace. In­deed, at times, Jack­son’s new show is so in­clu­sive, and the stage ramps dip so low, the crowd al­most be­comes part of the act.

Yet Jack­son has al­ways con­fided in her au­di­ence and this is no dif­fer­ent.

Her al­bums, par­tic­u­larly af­ter The Vel­vet

Rope, have of­ten ad­dressed her is­sues with low self-es­teem. She has also writ­ten a self­help book, True You: A Jour­ney to Find­ing and Lov­ing Your­self.

‘‘ There are a few is­sues I thought I grew past, but when writ­ing the book I learned that there was still some work that I needed to do,’’ she says.

‘‘ Most of us strug­gle with some­thing. The most im­por­tant thing is to recog­nise when I’m deal­ing with it so I can ac­cept where I am and move on.’’

Jack­son says her low self-es­teem and body is­sues date back to the pop­u­lar sit­com

Good Times, which ran from 1974 to 1979. Pro­duc­ers asked the then child ac­tor Jack­son to lose weight for her role on the show. She was just 10 years old.

‘‘ On my first day of work, I went to wardrobe and they bound my chest,’’ the singer says.

‘‘ I was de­vel­op­ing early and all I re­mem­ber is that I was not ac­cept­able the way I was.’’

Jack­son is trou­bled by re­cent trends in which Hol­ly­wood stars are eat­ing pa­per tis­sues to stay thin. ‘‘ I know of peo­ple who do this,’’ she says. ‘‘ It’s very dis­turb­ing and sad that so­ci­ety puts un­re­al­is­tic de­mands on how we should look. It has taken me a good while, but I am happy with who I am now.’’ Jack­son is also com­fort­able to be sin­gle. She was mar­ried to De Barge, Rene El­i­zondo and dated Jer­maine Dupri for seven years.

‘‘ The best way to a man’s heart is through his stom­ach,’’ Jack­son says, laugh­ing.

‘‘ No, re­ally, I’ve learned that I love to be in a re­la­tion­ship but I have to be happy with my­self.’’

Jack­son is now re­port­edly in love with Qatari bil­lion­aire Wis­sim Al Mana.

And she does not dis­count hav­ing chil­dren in the fu­ture.

‘‘ I’m very ro­man­tic,’’ she says. ‘‘ As far as be­ing a mum, if it is in God’s plan, I would love to be a mum one day.’’

There is an­other mes­sage of des­tiny in Jack­son’s show, too – that, one day, she will be re­united with her late brother, Michael, who died two years ago. It comes in an up­lift­ing yet emo­tional

ver­sion of To­gether Again. ‘‘ What I’d give just to hold you close, as on Earth, in heaven we’ll be to­gether,’’ she sings as fam­ily al­bum pho­to­graphs of Michael and Janet shine above her.

‘‘ Ev­ery­where I go, ev­ery smile I see, I know you are there, smil­ing back at me.’’

Janet po­litely de­flects de­tailed ques­tions about Michael in this in­ter­view, but ex­plains the rea­sons be­hind in­clud­ing a vir­tual duet with her brother of their hit Scream in the show.

‘‘ I wanted to give some­thing to the fans, who, like our fam­ily, are still griev­ing,’’ she says.

‘‘ Per­form­ing with Mike is ther­a­peu­tic and makes me smile in­side. The en­ergy is fierce but it makes me smile when I hear him.’’

Back­stage, in the cold labyrinth of the Royal Al­bert Hall, Jack­son holds court with con­fi­dence and ease.

But is it still about con­trol – and lots of it?

‘‘ Now that I’m older, I’ve come to see that God is the one who is re­ally in con­trol of things,’’ she says. ‘‘ And that’s fine by me.’’

JANET JACK­SON Arts Cen­tre State Theatre, Mel­bourne, Oc­to­ber 26, 27. To book phone 1300 182 183 ( from Au­gust 3).

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