The 52-year-old served as the headliner for 2018’s Essence Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana, over the weekend and took a couple minutes on stage to pay tribute to her dad, who passed away last month.
“A little less than two weeks ago, my father passed away. He was comforted by my family and me,” Jackson, who honoured her father on social media earlier this month, told the crowd. “You know it’s always difficult when you lose a loved one and to be quite honest it was really hard for me. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to move forward. If I should cancel this festival, cancel the entire tour.”
The singer continued: “Then I talked to my brother and we started to speak about my father’s strength. He was very strong. Without his drive, his strength, we wouldn’t have the success. We’re a black family that came from Gary, Indiana, and we broke all kinds of records around the globe. That’s truth.”
In the end, the decision to continue her tour was thanks to one question from her brother.
“My father was a great man and my brother, he asked me, he said, ‘If he were here right now, listening to this conversation, what do you think he would say to you?'” Jackson shared, fighting back tears. “And I think my father would’ve said, ‘Janet, please. Finish what you’ve started.'”
While her tribute on stage was certainly emotional, the performer didn’t let it define the whole evening; instead giving fans the show of a lifetime. Performing songs including “Anytime, Anyplace,” “What Have You Done For Me Lately” and “You Ain’t Right,” Jackson brought the house down with her incredible moves and voice.
Essence Fest marked the beginning of Jackson’s return to the stage; her State of the World tour officially kicks off in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday. The tour is happening in the midst of a custody battle with her estranged husband, Wissam Al Mana, over their son, 1-year-old Eissa. The fight for Eissa intensified last month when Jackson called the police to check on the child’s welfare while he was with his dad.
Shortly following the incident a source told ET that it was not the first time Jackson and Al Mana — who got married in 2012 — haven’t seen eye to eye. ET’s source claimed that Al Mana was “verbally abusive” to Jackson in the past, and that the singer is having difficulty getting over that painful period in her life.
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