The 80s: ‘Janet Jackson’

janetjackson2It was really no surprise back in the early 1980s when Janet Jackson released her first album.  As a member of the Jackson family, it was bound to happen.  So after some solid experience as a television actress as Penny on the series Good Times and Charlene on the show Diff’rent Strokes, Jackson began her recording career, releasing her self-titled, debut album on A&M Records in the fall of 1982.  Wanting the record to be judged on its own merit, Jackson decided to seek production and songwriting outside of the family.  Four of the album’s eight songs were written by the songwriters René Moore and Angela Winbush (you know, René & Angela), who also shared in the album’s production credits along with Jerry Weaver, Bobby Watson and Foster Sylvers.  Also janetjackson1included on the album were musical contributions from Sylvers’ brothers Edmund and Leon, background vocals from Shalamar’s Howard Hewett and keyboard from Jeff Lorber.  The end result was a mix of pop, R&B and tinge of rock that took the album to the top ten on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.  The album’s first single “Young Love,” penned by René and Angela, scored Jackson her first top ten hit, while follow up singles “Come Give Your Love To Me,” and “Say You Do” also spent time on the R&B, Dance Music/Club Play and Hot 100 charts.  Jackson hit major television shows— including Soul Train, American Bandstand, Solid Gold,  and Dance Fever— to promote the album, and even sang one of the singles, “The Magic Is Working,” on an episode of Diff’rent Strokes.  In recent years, Jackson has incorporated some of the tunes into her live performances, performing “Say You Do” and “Young Love” in a medley on her “Rock Witchu Tour” in 2008 and at the 2010 Essence Music Festival.

—Montrose Cunningham

Montrose Cunningham is a Dallas, Texas-based, independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado, currently working on a Masters in Marketing degree. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughters, sometimes at the same time. Purchase his release Inertia at, follow him on Twitter @MontroseC and check out his blog, Daddy Rock Star.


  1. Great article my fellow writer

  2. Stephen McMillian says:

    Great article Montrose! I have this album in my collection. It’s very underrated. It’s a very good first effort by Janet.

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