Janet Jackson was born to be famous. She might not have known it for a few years, but when she entered this world in 1966, she was joining a legendary musical dynasty in progress. The Jackson 5-featuring brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and then 6-year-old Michael Jackson, had already formed as The Jackson Brothers in 1964, and buoyed by their success, at 10 years of age Janet was entertaining America with her siblings on their TV variety show 'The Jacksons'.
But while the brothers would ultimately come in a distant second-through-fifth to the supremely talented Michael, and she was the youngest of nine children overall, it soon became clear that Janet Jackson was going to be a force to be reckoned with on her own.
Janet also kicked off the acting portion of her career on the classic 1970s-era series 'Good Times' and appeared on Different Strokes and Fame in the 1980s. It was when she put TV-and a whirlwind marriage to James DeBarge-aside to focus on music, however, that her star took off.
Having released two not particularly successful albums, Janet cut business ties with her father, Joe Jackson, and got to work on her third album, 1986's 'Control'.
On the wings of "What Have You Done for Me Lately," "Nasty," and "When I Think of You," that album went to #1, and forever after she could've just been "Janet" if Janet Jackson didn't already have a certain ring to it.
And the rest is history. As well as history, Michael Jackson's smash-hit 1995 album that included "Scream," featuring brother and sister joining forces for a perfectly choreographed breakdown in response to being treated like tabloid chum.
While it's been some years since Janet's instant-classic videos for the likes of "Nasty," "Rhythm Nation" and "That's the Way Love Goes" were burning up MTV, very few could touch her-then or now-as far as pop icon status goes.
If you Googled her last month, perhaps to see how her pregnancy was going along, what you'd actually find were a series of stories lamenting how ridiculous it is that Jackson isn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was nominated for induction in 2017 but missed the cut; though coincidentally her Poetic Justice co-star Tupac Shakur was on the same ballot and was chosen for posthumous induction in his first year of eligibility
Albeit due to a snub, the cries for musical justice were a reminder that Janet Jackson is music royalty in our midst-one of the best-selling artists of all time who has continued right up through her 2015 'Unbreakable' tour to bring to the table a superior mixture of talent, pioneering creative vision and larger-than-life presence.
And considering those same things could just as easily have been said about Michael Jackson in his prime, it's no wonder that, when Janet is off-stage, she just wants to be left the heck alone.
Jackson never officially announced her pregnancy, or confirmed it in so many words. She informed her fans she was going to be delaying her world tour until further notice while "planning family," but then silence, and only a handful of pictures of her in public, followed before her third husband, Wissam Al Mana, released a statement revealing that their son, Eissa Al Mana, had been born and the first-time mom was resting comfortably.
For someone who is so famous, and for whom so many people feel they know in some way, or at least have memories of a particular point in Janet's career that provided a soundtrack to their own life experiences, Janet has successfully pulled off the public disappearing act.
And while she was always more of a mellow presence in real life than some of the major stars that shared her same early era of success, such as Madonnaor Whitney Houston, fate just aligned itself in such a way that Janet almost had no choice but to protect herself from a media machine that she knew, from witnessing what her brother went through, was just waiting to pounce.
Before Michael Jackson died in 2009, he had spent at least 15 years fielding allegations of child sex abuse-infamously in criminal court in 2005, where he was proven not guilty on all counts, but in the tabloids and off and on in civil court as well. Between that and chatter about his skin tone and plastic surgery and personal life.
Janet Jackson remained close to Michael and saw it all.