“Holding My Baby In My Arms, I Am At Peace” Janet Jackson Talks Motherhood, Being A Music Icon and The Artist She Stans For
According to Billboard Magazine, Janet Jackson hasn’t changed much from her days of Rhythm Nation to now still making music at age 52 as she prepares to headline this year’s ESSENCE festival and while elbows deep in the joys of new motherhood. The star is the recipient of the Icon Award which will be awarded by the publication to the music superstar on Sunday night. In the candid interview she shares some of her new feelings and experiences as a mother and if and how that’s affected her music.
For starters, she shares that one of her more recent singles, “No Sleeep” had nothing to do with the sleep deprivation that comes with being a new mom. The singer ended her five-year marriage to Qatari business tycoon Wissam Al Mana in 2017 three months after having their son, Eissa at the age of fifty. When it comes to the 2015 single that spawned a remix featuring rapper J. Cole, Jackson says she wasn’t getting sleep for good reason, but it wasn’t because of a newborn:
“I wrote that story over Jimmy and Terry’s track before the baby was born! So obviously, it wasn’t anything I was going through. You could say, though, that I might have been anticipating sleepless nights. I’d also add that sleepless nights, no matter how tiring, are some of the times that I do my best writing.”
So when it comes to writing, what can we expect in the future from the woman behind hit records such as Control, The Velvet Rope and the self-titled, janet? Jackson didn’t drop many details, but says she isn’t trying to be secretive as much as just succumbing to the creative process as she goes along:
“I’m not trying to avoid the question and be secretive, but the truth is that I don’t try to analyze the creative process while it’s still ongoing. I’m very intuitive about writing. Anything can inspire me.”
“Like everyone else, my feelings are fluid. My ideas are fleeting. I like to keep it that way. I can’t decide in advance what a song or an album concept will be. I have to let those songs and concepts come to me rather than chase them down.”
She refers to music as a healing process and says that in order to find peace, the process must remain stress-free:
“I’m glad I’m not methodical or self-conscious as a writer. It’s important that I maintain a let-it-happen-when-it-happens approach. I don’t want to strain or stress. I want to be a channel for whatever images and emotions are running through my imagination. Spontaneity is so important to me. It allows for surprise, and, for me, surprise is what breaks up the boredom of daily life. When I finally get to the music that genuinely expresses what I’m experiencing in the moment, I feel free. Music does that for me. Its healing properties are extraordinary.”
Being around long enough and maintaining respect and success for so long, it’s interesting to see what new talent Jackson is inspired by. It’s no surprise that Sza, Daniel Caesar and Kendrick Lamar make the five-time Grammy award winner excited about music:
“Daniel Caesar is proving that romantic R&B is alive and well. Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole are proving that brilliantly original storytelling is one of hip-hop’s great gifts to world culture. SZA is proving that young women still possess extraordinary vocal skills and style.”
But there’s one artist both Jackson and her son stan for. And it’s no surprise that it’s an artist much like Janet who dances, sings and puts on an incredible show:
“I also have a special place in my heart for Bruno Mars. Bruno was really the first music my son responded to. During and after his birth, I comforted myself with Brazilian jazz, music that always relaxes me. Then when the baby began crawling, Bruno was breaking out big and on the radio all the time. That delighted both of us. Bruno is a throwback to the days when the greatest artists could do it all: write, sing, dance, produce.”
The artist also gets personal when sharing that she’s battled low self-esteem and struggled through harsh self-criticism, but over time has allowed her faith to carry her through. She also shares that motherhood has had a significant impact on her process of self-healing as well, noting that love has a way of making everything in life alright:
“And while we’re talking about positivity, let me also say that my son, even in his short 17 months on the planet, has showed me that love, no matter how deeply you believe you have experienced that emotion, can always go deeper. Love is limitless. And for someone like me, raised in show business where self-concern is always a priority, how fortunate I am now to be concerned, first and foremost, with the welfare of someone else. Day after day and night after night, holding my baby in my arms, I am at peace. I am blessed. I feel bliss. In those moments, all is right with the world.”
You can read the interview in it’s entirety here.