The legendary singer looks back on a dazzling career and brings It full circle to Vegas
by Shep Morgan
If Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, his sister Janet could be called the Queen. The youngest of the Jackson kids grew up to become a chart-topping performer, whose album sales have topped 100 million as she brought her own provocative style to dazzling performances. Looking back on more than three decades in show business, she says, “To survive as long as I have and to have as much success was not easy. What keeps me going? God. I start every day with a prayer, and I try to live my life in a way that I have no regrets. Life is too short.”
Jackson’s life and career have had highs and lows, but she’s always found ways to reinvent herself. The adorable fresh-faced kid from the TV hits Good Times, Diff’rent Strokes and Fame became a sexy performer with all the right moves, scoring with songs like “Nasty,” “Control” and “All For You,” and went on to make her mark on the big screen in Poetic Justice and the box-office-busting comedy Nutty Professor II: The Klumps opposite Eddie Murphy.
Now, she’s become the family superstar who’s keeping the Jackson legacy alive after the devastating death of her brother. But she insists, “I don’t think about that. I just try to stay focused on my music and my acting. Michael and I grew up sharing our dreams. I was his little sister and he always knew that I had his back. Still not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.”
And Jackson has made her brother part of her current world tour, “Number Ones: Up Close and Personal.” She does a virtual duet of “Scream” with Michael as he appears on a screen on the stage. “I didn’t have doubts about including that,” she says. “I wanted to give something to the fans who are, like our family, grieving. Performing with Mike is therapeutic. The energy of ‘Scream’ is fierce but it makes me smile inside when I hear him, when I hear his voice.”
The main feature of Jackson’s show is not the sexy spectacles that made her famous, but the hit songs that have endured. “This is the first time that I have done concerts where I only sing what the fans made number one,” she says. “It is great to revisit these songs and feel the love from the audience all over again.
“What’s funny is that you would think at the end of a concert that you would be exhausted,” she continues. “But the energy that’s flowing through you is so intense that, after the show, I’m still on a high. You’re still wound up, so you can’t go to sleep. You’re trying to make yourself relax.”
Jackson has some special memories of taking her tour to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. “I was really looking forward to being back in Las Vegas,” she says. “It’s an exciting city, with people from all over the world. There is something to do any time of the day or night, and I enjoy seeing the shows, shopping, visiting friends. My family has been going there for as long as I can remember.”
In fact, she began her career in Las Vegas when she was seven years old, joining the Jackson family act onstage to do a Mae West impersonation in a duet of “I Got You Babe” with her brother Randy. Those who were there remember that audiences loved it.
Although she’s singing the songs that made her famous and earned her a top spot on the list of wealthiest female entertainers, Jackson promises to have a new album in the works. “I will go back to record at some point soon,” she says. “I am always thinking about new songs, but I am not sure what they will be yet. My music is very personal and I write about what is going on in my life.”