Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966) is an American recording artist and actress. Born in Gary, Indiana, and raised in Encino, Los Angeles, she is the youngest child of the Jackson family of musicians. She first performed on stage with her family at the age of seven, and started her career as an actress with the variety television series The Jacksons in 1976. She went on to appear in other television shows throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, including Good Times and Fame.
At age sixteen in 1982, she signed a recording contract with A&M and released her self-titled debut. She faced criticism for her limited vocal range, and for being yet another member of the Jackson family to become a recording artist. Beginning with her third studio album Control (1986), she began a long-term collaboration with record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Her music with Jam and Lewis incorporated elements of rhythm and blues, disco, funk, rock and rap with sample loop, triplet swing and industrial beats, which led to crossover appeal in popular music. In addition to receiving recognition for the innovation in her albums, choreography, music videos, and prominence on MTV, Jackson was acknowledged as a role model for her socially conscious lyrics.
In 1991, she signed the first of two record-breaking, multi-million dollar contracts with Virgin Records, establishing her as one of the highest paid artists in the industry. Her debut album under the Virgin label, Janet (1993), saw Jackson develop a public image as a sex symbol as she began to explore sexuality in her work. That same year, she appeared in her first starring film role in Poetic Justice. By the end of the 1990s, she was named the second most successful recording artist of the decade. All for You (2001), became her fifth consecutive studio album to hit number one on the Billboard 200 album charts. In 2007, she changed labels, signing with Island Records and released her tenth studio album Discipline the following year. Why Did I Get Married (2007) marked a concentrated effort for her to return to acting, followed by its sequel and For Colored Girls in 2010.
Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, Jackson is ranked as one of the best-selling artists in the history of contemporary music. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lists her as the eleventh best-selling female artist in the United States, with 26 million certified albums. She has amassed an extensive catalog of hits, with singles such as "Nasty", "Rhythm Nation", "That's the Way Love Goes", "Together Again" and "All for You" among her most iconic. In 2008, Billboard released its list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, ranking her at number seven. In 2010, the magazine announced the "Top 50 R&B / Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years", ranking her at number five. Her longevity, records and achievements reflect her influence in shaping and redefining the scope of popular music. She has been cited as an inspiration among numerous performers.