Photo courtesy: @aimeetoons
By Elliot Peace | @MrWintour
To whom it may concern at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,
I have a few questions.
Questions that I pose to you, not just as a Janet Jackson fan whose eyes are filled with tears after learning that after years of being snubbed by you (with a mere nomination) you all could bring yourselves to snub her again with an induction; but as a fan of music, and even of the music industry – as tarnished and as bureaucratic as I have learned it to be.
It’s almost 5:00 am EST and I have to be at work at 8:30, but I was awakened by the semi-constant vibrations of my cell phone, and the constant illumination of a notification filling my darkened bedroom. I knew it had happened. As myself and other members of Janet Jackson’s fan family (which are affectionately referred to as the JanFam) were very aware of the release of inductees today.
I knew the inductees had been released, what I did not know, or had not really prepared myself for was what I would find on my phone when I turned on the screen.
Then I saw it.
A number of artists – all very similar, except one act which stood out from the rest, but also stood out to me as being as far, or farther from “Rock & Roll” as Janet Jackson is. Janet Jackson… is not on this list.
I immediately took to Twitter, and to my Facebook groups to see if anyone else was outraged, or if I was alone in feeling like I had just been broken up with. Before I knew it, I was typing feverishly – relentlessly trying to cram questions into 140 characters, and send them to @rock_hall about how you could have overlooked Janet Jackson for this honor?
My questions are stemmed not only from a place of anger, but also of hurt, dismay, disbelief, and also hope; but they are impossible to fit into 140 characters. They are simple questions, and Rock Hall, they ARE NOT ALL RHETORICAL. I expect some answers – we, the faithful members of the Rhythm Nation which Janet Jackson has lead for more than twenty five years, expect answers.
Who was the first female artist during the Soundscan tallying era to have an album debut at Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100?
Who created a debut tour that was, and still is the most successful debut concert tour of any artist in history?
Who among your inductees has earned a number one album in four consecutive decades? (I know for sure, at least one of your inductees was not even together a full decade). Who has garnered Grammy nominations in more categories that any other artist in history, one of which was a “Rock” category.
Who emerged from perhaps the largest musical shadow ever cast by family members, to shine through (arguably, at times, outshine) as a mega-superstar in their own right; completely independent of assistance?
Who among you will have the courage to stand up and speak out for the injustices within your induction process, not just for Janet Jackson, but for all deserving candidates who are left stranded by the wayside of relevancy each year?
What artist today has not been influenced by Janet Jackson?
What artist can honestly say they have not been inspired by her musicality, creativity, visual innovation, and/or perseverance in a fickle industry of one-hit-wonders, and wavering “it-artists” of the moment?
What would the music and entertainment industry be today, without the strides made, the standard set, and the expectation created by Janet Jackson’s domination of music, dance, film, business, and philanthropy?
What would the world be like if Janet Jackson had not convinced a generation of fans to take control of their world, then pay attention to the world around them?
When will Janet Jackson receive her due?
When will there be a magazine article written that does not make reference to, by name, to her brothers or another Pop Queen with similar accolades?
When will the contributions she has made to the music and entertainment industries be hailed in the same light as those who haven’t broken nearly as many records, or barriers?
When will her catalog of hits, her arsenal of concert tours, the video notches in her belt, the millions of albums, movie tickets, concert tickets, etc. sold be enough to have her regarded among her peers in the mainstream media & public perception?
When will she be brought to the front of the public stage and praised, rather than applauded lightly from the back of the room?
Where are all of her vocal supporters when we need them?
Where are the Britneys, Beyonces, Rhiannas, J. Los, and even Nickis who have been obviously inspired by Miss Jackson, and who could set the record straight with their fans, rallying the type of backing and respect she deserves?
Where is the public apology from former FCC chairman Michael Powell for vilifying one of the greatest talents the world will ever know, and effectively tainting her legacy for the generations who had & have yet to be introduced to her?
(Sidenote: Did we all realize that his father is Colin Powell? The same Colin Powell who recruited Janet a few years before to help with America’s Promise: The Alliance for Youth, the non-profit organization he founded? The same organization, for which he happily accepted proceeds from The Velvet Rope Tour to help fund?)
Where is Colin Powell to vouch for her character & demand that she be treated like the treasure she is?
Where are the people who have access to the world’s microphone, but will not speak into it on her behalf?
Where is Justin Timberlake to right his wrongs – to not Sway on MTV, but on a serious platform that will get the attention it deserves?
Where the innumerable, thankful musical acts whose entertainment value has risen, even if indirectly, due to what the public expects from its performers, based on the elements Janet Jackson infused so seamlessly into her career?
Why did it take so long for Janet Jackson to get a nomination? Why was one of the most successful artists of all time, who has been credited with helping to bridge gaps between numerous musical genres, racial groups, and generations not nominated until 2015, when she was eligible for induction in 2007?
Why is that the story for so many people of color?
Why is that the story for so many WOMEN of color?
Why was Bruce Springsteen (one of the 3 artists to have number 1 albums span 4 decades) nominated and inducted a mere year after his eligibility, when though his record sales may have been comparable, his accolades were certainly not? Why is it okay to ignore the accomplishments of those who have achieved so much, only to give acclaim to those who are less deserving? Why should I have even had to pose these questions, when there really are not any answers to them – only excuses?
Now why, I ask again, reprising the question at the end of each of my Tweets regarding Janet Jackson’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, why wasn’t she inducted?
A Disappointed music fan,
Please read our article on the Under-representation of Black Women in the RRHOF