Janet Jackson still has a lot to prove in the music industry.
The five-time Grammy winner has seven #1 albums and two #2 albums to her credit, but she is still evolving.
Jackson, 52, talked to Billboard about the stars today that inspire her. “Daniel Caesar is proving that romantic R&B is alive and well,” she said of the rising Canadian musician. “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.”
“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,” she revealed. “Then when the baby began crawling, Bruno was breaking out big and on the radio all the time. That delighted both of us.”
What Jackson loves most about Mars is how he puts it all together: “Bruno is a throwback to the days when the greatest artists could do it all: write, sing, dance, produce.”
This year’s Billboard Music Awards Icon Award recipient also reflected on one of her more precious Michael Jackson memories. “I was 16 and in between my first two records,” she remembered. “Michael was recording [1982’s] Thriller. He invited me to the studio where he was about to sing ‘P.Y.T.’ and asked me to help out on background vocals.
“Since we had been singing together forever, I knew it’d be easy. I jumped at the chance. I loved being one of the P.Y.T.s and was especially proud — I hope this doesn’t sound like bragging — that when the record was mixed, my single background voice was the one featured. I can’t tell you how good that made me feel.”
The “Miss You Much” singer last released an album in 2015; now she is gearing up to share more of her music with the world.
“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,” Jackson told the publication. “This morning, I saw this lovely elderly Japanese woman walking down the streets of Hollywood wearing an adorable bonnet with bright red flowers. She might be a song.
“I remembered an especially painful chapter in my early life last night before going to bed. That might be a song,” she added. “I woke up this morning and heard a bird chirping in a rhythm that captivated my heart. Maybe that will turn into a new groove. Like everyone else, my feelings are fluid.”
Jackson will be honoured at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, hosted by fellow singer Kelly Clarkson.