In a new interview with Parade Magazine, Janet has said that it was her parents insistence on work, self-discipline and her mother’s faith that moulded her character.
The magazine’s website also features 10 new photos of Janet which can be seen below along with excerpts from the interview.
Photos: Jack Guy
Janet Jackson is one of popular music’s biggest stars, having sold more records than any female recording artist–with the exception of Mariah Carey. Publicly, she is the sexy songstress with a knowing wink. Privately, she lives a very different life.
Janet Jackson, in reality, is not like her public persona. She is more the modest, upright, self-disciplined woman her devoutly Christian mother raised her to be.
On Her Working Childhood
“My parents have close to three acres at home in Encino (Calif.), and tons of trees in their yard,” Janet tells me. “We children had lots of chores. On Saturday morning, we’d get up and rake the entire yard. Then we’d take out the garbage. When my brothers were on the road, I’d be the one taking out the garbage because my sister La Toya would say to me, ‘Mother wants you to do this.’”
Janet is the youngest of the nine Jackson siblings.
“I’d think, ‘I’m sure doing a lot of the chores all by myself,’” she continues. “When I’d ask Mother, ‘Do you want me to do this myself?’ She’d go, ‘No, baby, I said for both you and La Toya to do it.’ La Toya was putting all her chores on me!”
“But I’m thankful for all the chores we had to do around the house,” she says. “I think that’s one of the things that helped us stay grounded. As a child, I had to get up early for school or work. I’d get ready by myself. I’d set my alarm to wake me up very early in the morning, and be off to work, the family driver driving me every morning. I did it alone, my parents never coming in to wake me up. By age seven, I used to comb my hair for performances, just pull my hair up into a bun. Granted, it wasn’t a very intricate hairstyle. Still, to be that responsible and disciplined at age seven is unusual.”
“After school, I’d come home and get in the kitchen and cook up a meal for myself,” she boasts. “Because I was too little to reach the oven or the stove, I’d stand on top of a swivel chair, cut up onions, garlic, butter, chicken or a little steak and put it in foil and make it. We children worked and still went to school. Mother made sure we still had a little playtime.”
On Staying Grounded and Doing Your Best
“Mother always talked to us about keeping our feet on the ground,” Janet recalls. “Be thankful. Success is a gift from God. That doesn’t necessarily mean that what you are doing right now will last forever.”
“When I was younger, I thought you had to be in control of your own life,” she says. “That takes a lot of discipline, hard work and focus. You just can’t let it all fall by the wayside. Later on, I learned that God is really in control of everything. But you still have to put your best foot forward and be the best you can possibly be.”
“I feel everyone is put here for a reason,” she states. “Everyone has a calling. I always thought my real calling was to help other people.”
Janet Jackson has long been active in supporting charities, especially those dedicated to helping the victims of AIDS.
On Her Faith
“Jehovah’s Witnesses was the religion we were raised under,” Jackson says. “I’d get up on Sunday mornings, go to the Kingdom Hall, go again on Thursday night and go to book study on Tuesdays, because that was my mother’s routine.”
“I believe in God. I feel that spiritual connection. But, most of the time, I didn’t pay attention in the Kingdom Hall. I was asleep. I know that’s awful. I was so tired, so busy, so knocked out, I’d fall asleep. My mother would hit me on my thigh to wake me up. ‘Baby, wake up!’ she’d say, ‘Wake up and close your legs! You have on a dress!’”
“So, I’d wake up and close my legs. A few minutes later, somehow I’d be asleep again and my head would fall back and my legs open up. Mother would nudge me.”
On Growing Up in a ‘Religious World’
“Being a Jehovah’s Witness, you grow up in a very religious world,” she continues. “But as a kid I loved Prince and The Time, one of my favorite groups, and would listen to them all the time even though you’re not supposed to do that.”
“When I was 16, I was promoting my first album and I went with Mother to see The Time’s concert with Prince. I did not want to sit next to Mother because I knew they were dirty. I was trying to be cool and calm, but oh my God, I was sweating bullets! How am I going to sit at this show and watch Vanity Six and Prince and The Time and sit next to Mother?” She laughs. “She’s going to think, ‘Good Lord, what is my baby into? She really needs more of God in her life! Where did I go wrong?’ I could just hear Mother blaming herself for everything! Luckily, I got someone else to swap seats with me so I was able to enjoy the show and have the same great time I would’ve had if I were there without Mother.”
Read more about Janet Jackson in the February 10 issue of PARADE.