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, releasing her self-titled debut album the same year. 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, 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.