I am still recovering from my recent adventure to see, The Empress of Pop, Janet Damita Jo Jackson, in her highly anticipated concert, State of the World Tour.
During the spring of 2015, I was surprised to learn that Janet was planning to release her eleventh studio album, Unbreakable. Upon visiting a local store, I was floored to discover that the first shipments of the album had sold out.
Nevertheless, additional shipments arrived shortly thereafter and before long, I was blissfully satiating the new material, which was upbeat, soothing and spiritually enlightening.
On this LP, Janet shares her earnest heart, soul and gratitude for her fans, reviewing transformative life lessons. Naturally, buzz of a tour initially entitled, Unbreakable, was in the works and like other fans, I purchased my concert tickets ASAP.
Flash-forward, life always finds a way and many of us were delighted if not surprised to learn that Janet and her husband, had conceived midway through the tour.
Without a doubt, the show was postponed, and many were skeptical of how soon Jan would return to the spotlight, let alone to complete her tour. We wondered, would the show go on?
Honestly, I never thought we would see the day when Jan would defy the odds, becoming a first-time mother at fifty. Like many, I was happy for her blessing and was willing to wait until the tour resumed.
There are many things that I admire about Janet Jackson, but her most compelling attribute that inspires me is her tremendous strength and her iron will.
When Janet sets her mind to achieve or to change something, nothing stands in her way until she manifests that which is in her heart and mind. In other words, “Jan comes from excellent stock.”
I salute the grand matriarch of the Jackson family, Mrs. Katherine Jackson. Though Janet is a unique individual, she reflects her beautiful and gracious mother in many endearing ways.
Eight months after giving birth to her beautiful and healthy baby boy, Eissa, Janet worked relentlessly to plan and resurrect a tour with a new name, State of the World. Given the present continuous upheaval, injustice and eroding morale in the world, it’s curious to observe how relevant that album is today.
Many will recall, "State of the World," a socially-conscious song from the platinum successful Rhythm Nation album. The summer of 1990, I caught a Rhythm Nation show, which was the first-time I ever saw a Jackson perform live in person. I’ll always fondly remember that evening, sharing it with my best childhood friend.
I had no idea what to anticipate for this current show and had done my best to avoid watching uploaded YouTube videos capturing the recent tour performances via smartphones from enthusiastic concertgoers.
Needless to say, the evening began to feel surreal the moment we spotted vendors selling Janet Jackson T-shirts along the expressway and near the venue’s parking lot. It was really happening and about to go down.
With no opening act, the lights went down forty-five minutes after eight. Miss Janet emerged onto the stage poised and formally adorned in black and white with a cane, and a vibrant reddish-brown ponytail. She was greeted with an outpour of adulation and love.
Janet led her incredible band and her enthused dancers with playful yet subtle control, her fierceness unyielding. She commanded the arena with ease, she charmed and teased the audience, delivering a buffet of pop hit medleys from her considerable catalogue.
She also treated us to newer selections, surprising us with a few b-side favorites and savvy remixes, one of which paid homage to the late Aaliyah, whom she was dearly fond of.
I vacillated from grooving to the live music, to feeling mesmerized by the presence of my first childhood idol. Janet's fierceness and confidence were intoxicating.
Through dramatic lighting and captivating cinematic visuals, not only did Jan evoke swag and creativity, but also she touched on profound universal life lessons regarding respect, dignity and self-worth.
I’ve always respected Janet’s recognition of the human experience as a spiritual journey. All of us must fall and dwell in the dark in order to rise toward true enlightenment.
Before we knew it, the show was whisking us by, and the evening was transforming into a memory that soon felt like a dream. Funny how time flied.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Janet wished us well on our life journey and reminded us that throughout it all, even in the face of adversity and obstacles, the journey is about love. More importantly, love from source found within that connects us all.
I genuinely resonated with her sentiments and wish Janet, Eissa and her family peace and love. Jan, thank you for sharing your tremendous gifts with the world, inspiring us with great music through visuals, song and dance.
“In complete darkness we are all the same, it is only our knowledge and wisdom that separates us. Don’t let your eyes deceive you.” _ Janet Jackson.