Janet Jackson finally felt comfortable enough to talk about losing her father, Joe Jackson, and she did it onstage in front of thousands of fans Sunday night at Essence Festival in New Orleans.
“A little less than two weeks ago my father passed away. He was comforted by my family and me,” she began. “It’s always difficult when you lose a loved one, and to be quite honest it was really hard for me.”
“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t how to move forward. If I should cancel this festival, cancel the entire tour,” Jackson continued.
The “Rhythm Nation” singer, 52, explained that before performing in New Orleans she spoke with one of her brothers, who helped her remember her father’s strength.
“He was very strong. Without this drive, his strength, we wouldn’t have the success. We’re a black family that came from Gary, Indiana, and we broke all kinds of record around the globe. That’s true. My father was a great man,” she said of her late father.
Before his death on June 27, Joe Jackson was the manager of the famed Jackson family. A guitar player himself, he eventually formed the group The Jackson Five with his sons, and helped launch the solo careers of Janet Jackson and the late Michael Jackson.
On Sunday night, Jackson added that her brother asked her to imagine what her father would tell her in this difficult moment.
“I think my father would’ve said, ‘Janet please, finish what you started. And I will be there with you every step of the way in your heart. So here I am,” she said onstage to applause.
Jackson then dedicated “Together Again” to her late father, who died last month after battling health issues, including a recent bout with cancer. He was 89.