We first fell in love with Janet Jackson’s infectious smile more than four decades ago when she played young Penny on Good Times. She’s since evolved from a shy child actor into a record-breaking music icon. However, what has remained the same is the “Control” singer’s innate ability to radiate happiness and joy.
That’s why it only makes sense that Janet —“Miss Jackson if you’re nasty”— is covering the July/August edition dubbed “The Happiness issue” of ESSENCE, and opening up about finding her joy through the years.
“When it comes to happiness, I’m no expert,” Jackson writes in the feature story. “I have only my life experience as a guide. I’ve known great happiness and great sadness. But I guess the key question is, What do I really know about happiness?”
In a heartfelt letter to readers, the ESSENCE Festival headliner answers that question with a level of candidness she has rarely shown before.
“In my forties: Like millions of women in the world, I still heard voices inside my head berating me, voices questioning my value,” Jackson shares. “Happiness was elusive. A reunion with old friends might make me happy. A call from a colleague might make me happy. But because sometimes I saw my failed relationships as my fault, I easily fell into despair.”
Despite the valleys, the 52-year-old entertainer has managed to navigate life with an enthusiasm and work ethic that’s difficult to match. Now she finds pieces of paradise in her relationship with God, the inspirational people she surrounds herself with, and in the presence of her 1-year-old son Eissa.
“The height of happiness is holding my baby son in my arms and hearing him coo, or when I look into his smiling eyes and watch him respond to my tenderness,” Jackson shares. “When I kiss him. When I sing him softly to sleep. During those sacred times, happiness is everywhere. Happiness is in gratitude to God. Happiness is saying, ‘Thank you, God, for my life, my energy and my capacity to grow in love.’ ”
Read more of Janet Jackson’s heartfelt letter in the July/August issue of ESSENCE, on newsstands everywhere on June 22!