Janet Jackson on April 29 will bring her most recent concert tour, “Together Again,” to FedExForum.
The opening act will be Ludacris, the Atlanta rapper who has carved a second successful career as an actor, in such projects as Craig Brewer’s made-in-Memphis “Hustle & Flow” and the “Fast & Furious” movie franchise.
Jackson’s 10th concert tour, “Together Again,” takes the 56-year-old singer to 35 cities through June 21. The first leg of the tour focuses on the South, with a date in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on May 4.
Here are some more facts about Janet Jackson, for those who need a refresher course prior to the concert.
From ‘Penny’ to ‘Nasty’
Originally best known as Michael Jackson’s little sister and as the 10th and youngest child in arguably the world’s most famous show business family, Janet Jackson operated in reverse of Ludacris: Before making a mark as a recording artist, she found success an actor. Notably, she was little Penny, adopted daughter of series regular Wilona (Ja’Net DuBois), on the final two seasons of the hit CBS sitcom “Good Times,” in 1977 and 1978.
Jackson emerged from the shadows of brother Michael and mother Wilona with a vengeance in the 1980s, when the cutting-edge funk-industrial beats and assertive lyrics of the albums “Control” (1986) and “Rhythm Nation 1814” (1989) established her as a major commercial and artistic force in popular music. “Control” contained the hit single “Nasty,” which remains one of Jackson’s signature songs, thanks to its quotable lyric: “My first name ain’t baby, it’s Janet — Miss Jackson if you’re nasty.”
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Overall, Jackson has sold more than 100 million records and earned five Grammy Awards. In 2019, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her 11th and most recent studio album is “Unbreakable,” from 2015.
Janet Jackson and Memphis
Janet Jackson and Memphis have a long and generally happy relationship.
The singer brought her “State of the World” tour to FedExForum in 2017. According to The Commercial Appeal’s Bob Mehr, the show began with “a series of charged videos depicting international conflict, environmental emergencies and racial unrest in America.” Jackson emerged “dressed in black dominatrix chic, wielding a prop cane, and wearing her signature headset mic…” She was “greeted with a roar as she sauntered the stage, setting up an evening of pop music with an edge.”
The 90-minute show, Mehr wrote, was “a mix of song and dance, high drama and light comedy. Unlike so many arena performers who seek spectacle but neglect any sense of intimacy in their performance, Jackson deftly managed to achieve both.” The evening concluded with Janet in a video duet with her late brother Michael on their song, “Scream,” followed by “Rhythm Nation.”
In 2015, Jackson’s “Unbreakable” tour touched down at FedExForum. According to The Commercial Appeal, Jackson performed 32 songs in a 90-minute concert that was “heavy on choreographed dance routines.”
In 1990, Jackson played the Mid-South Coliseum. According to Ron Wynn’s review of show in The Commercial Appeal, Jackson “danced, sang and demonstrated why she’s challenging Madonna and her celebrated brother Michael for the crown as the world’s foremost R&B/pop star.”
Continued Wynn: “If there were any doubts that Ms. Jackson has earned the critical and commercial success she’s reaped from her hit LP’s ‘Control’ and ‘Rhythm Nation 1814,’ her show was proof positive she’s at the top among pop performers.”
On the arguably negative side of the Memphis-association equation, we might point out that it was a sort-of Memphian, singer Justin Timberlake, who was born in Memphis and raised mostly in the Shelby Forest area (he attended E.E. Jeter Elementary School), who tore off part of Jackson’s top at the conclusion of the duo’s halftime performance during Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. The second-long live broadcast of a semi-exposed breast ignited a controversy that included a record FCC fine and a denunciation on the floor of the U.S. Senate and that continues to fire up media, academic and at-home-and-at-work debate.
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The ‘Together Again’ tour so far
The Memphis date will be only the eighth show of the “Together Again” trek, including a pair of tour-opening performances at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida.
The Orlando Sentinel characterized an April 19 performance at the city’s Amway Center as a “hits-heavy megamix of a show.” For most dates, Jackson is performing close to 40 songs in about an hour and 45 minutes, including the Michael video duet, “Scream,” and such relative deep cuts as “Diamonds,” a 1986 recording by trumpeter Herb Alpert that featured Janet Jackson vocals.
Are tickets still available for FedExForum show?
Ticket sales for the concert have been brisk, but several hundred seats remain available. Some are on the floor, at $296.95, but most are in the upper deck, where they go for $16.95.
For more information, visit ticketmaster.com.
Janet Jackson and Ludacris in Memphis
7:45 p.m. April 29 at FedExForum, 191 Beale St.
For more information on tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.