One of the opening lines to the title track of Janet Jackson’s latest album, Unbreakable, pays tribute to the passionate force behind her unmatched success in music.
“Truth is, I wouldn’t be here without the love that I stand on,” she sweetly sings.
That love, which comes from the JanFam — a nickname created for the 50-year-old’s dedicated fan base — has continually proven itself to be both influential and prominent, but none more so than during a time when the person it’s targeted toward is on an understandable career hiatus (Jackson announced that she would be taking a break as she prepares to deliver her first child).
In one of the most recent displays of that love, Jackson’s “Dammn Baby,” the third single released from Unbreakable, recently managed to become her third top-10 R&B single on the Billboard charts, all due to her followers’ radio requests (yes, people still do that), YouTube plays, and Spotify streams of the song.
That driving force of emotion is also one of the biggest reasons why the Induct Janet Jackson Into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame project — hereon referred to as Induct Janet — an online movement that hopes to see Jackson be inducted into the prestigious organization, has been recognized and respected by several media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Blade, a handful of Jackson’s peers, such as Missy Elliott, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and others, and even the RRHOF itself.
Induct Janet founder Mike Litherland, who is preparing to “keep the conversation going” for a hopeful 2016 nomination, recently explained to the Inquisitr why he’s so passionate about seeing Janet inducted.
“Janet Jackson has been eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2007,” he acknowledged, “but she has only been nominated once, back in 2015. Prior to her first nomination, I became increasingly frustrated with each passing year that the nomination committee continued to overlook Janet. Her snub became more glaring with the release of nomination ballots every year.”
“When the 2012 ballot was announced and once again didn’t include Janet’s name,” Litherland continued, “I decided to launch a Facebook page in support of Janet’s nomination and induction. Over time, the page began to build into a grassroots, groundswell of support and the Induct Janet movement was officially born.”
With more than 100,000 followers on the Induct Janet Facebook page alone, Mike already has more than enough of an army to head into battle with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Jackson’s behalf. However, there’s nothing wrong with having a great secret weapon — or in this case, 100 of them.
Teaming up with Janet Euphoria, another popular Jackson fan collective on Facebook, co-administered by Lamont Hicks and Jordan Listenbee, Litherland recently asked fellow Janet fans to loan their faces and voices for “100 Fans. 100 Reasons,” a literal reading of events and accolades from Jackson’s four-decade long entertainment career.
Like Litherland, who is a moderator for Janet Euphoria, co-admins Hicks and Listenbee have also forged close ties with both entertainment entities and friends of the superstar, but Hicks, a minor celebrity in his own right thanks to his work on the notable YouTube parody series “The Legends Panel,” has actually been publicly recognized by the “Control” singer herself.
In June of this year, following the tragic mass shooting in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, Lamont used Janet’s “Shoulda Known Better” from her Unbreakable LP to create a touching tribute video that honored the 49 slain patrons of the dance establishment. As noted by the Inquisitr, the visual eventually made its way to Jackson’s eyes, who then published Hick’s work on all of her social media pages.
While all three are steadfastly clear on their directive to get Janet inducted, Listenbee can’t help but feel what this could possibly do for other African-American musicians who have never received a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nod.
“I would like to see Janet’s induction be a catalyst for a major shift in how the RRHOF chooses its members,” she explained. “Right now, it’s a very boys only, whites only organization. There are very few women, and even fewer women of color [who are currently inducted]. I think Janet’s exclusion last year spotlights a really ugly issue on what rock music is [and isn’t], considering that it’s [actually] rooted in black music art forms.”
Jordan goes deeper with this particular mention in a knowledgeable op-ed she co-wrote with Hicks on the official TLP website.
“Rock music is a genre fundamentally rooted in the African-American diaspora. Artists such as Little Richard, Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Ike Turner, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, and countless other black musicians, both unknown and famous, are the direct architects of the sounds that shaped rock music, and further down the line, American popular music as a whole.
“Black men and women over the course of history have been known to not receive the credit due to them in several different ways, and their contributions to the development of rock music is a major [omission].”
As a black woman, part of Listenbee’s reasons for helping Janet receive the high honor do have some personal roots attached.
“I really would like to see women who look like me inducted,” she admitted. “If Janet gets in, and people like Whitney [Houston], Mariah [Carey], and others [follow suit], it gives younger generations of [African-American] women something to look [up] to.”
Of course, even with all of the time, effort, and love that these, and so many other members of the JanFam are putting into this power play, it all depends on whether or not RRHOF higher-ups decide that Janet is worthy enough for induction. Nonetheless, Litherland seems hopeful that this newest push, along with the dismissal of 15 long-term RRHOF members in April 2015, will be the necessary spark that lights the proper fuse for Jackson’s acceptance.
“It’s difficult to predict in which direction the committee will take this year,” he said, “but we remain hopeful that Janet once again appears on this October’s nomination ballot – and this time [around], they’ll induct Janet.”
[Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images]