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Janet Jackson Leads Weekend Of Divas In Metro Detroit

Of the Oakland Press

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Janet Jackson and LL Cool J perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $49.75-$129.75. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Waiting seven years between tours wasn't Janet Jackson's idea.

The multi-platinum superstar and youngest member of the Motown-discovered Jackson musical clan -- who's current Rock Witchu Tour is supporting her latest release, "Discipline" -- was actually planning to go out in 2006, to support that year's "20 Y.O." album.

"I was in rehearsals for the tour and everything," recalls Jackson, who was working on the show in Atlanta while she was filming Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married?" "The band was already rehearsing. The dancers were there. We were going for it." But then Jackson signed a reported $20 million deal with Island Def Jam Records (which she left this week), where her boyfriend and "Discipline" co-executive producer Jermaine Dupri is president of the urban division. The label wanted a new album right away and asked Jackson to scrap the road in favor of the studio.

"The kids were so bummed, the dancers," Jackson remembers. "It was pretty sad. We had our little crying session...but I felt like this was the best thing to do.

"I have missed it," Jackson, 42, says of performing live, "and it means a great deal to me. When I'm creating music or singing the music (in the studio), I think about the stage performance. I think about the tour. The idea starts that early on for me.

"And I love being able to see the sea of faces, to have that connection, to feel that love. That's exciting for me.

But Jackson's joy at being back on the road this year is tempered by business concerns and a career decline that began with her "wardrobe malfunction" at Super Bowl Super Bowl XXXVIIII. That effectively harpooned the commercial fortunes of 2004's "Damita Jo" and the "20 Y.O;" while both of those albums debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and were each certified platinum, they fell far below the multi-million selling, hit single-spewing standard of earlier triumphs such as 1986's "Control," 1989's "Rhythm Nation 1814" and 1993's "janet." [cq]

"Discipline," meanwhile, came on strong with a No. 1 debut in March -- though its first week sales were smaller than either of its two immediate predecessors -- but has since tailed off and has sold about 415,000 copies.

Jackson, who's sold more than 100 million albums worldwide since 1982, announced this week that Island Def Jam has "agreed to dissolve" their deal. A statement said that "Janet will have autonomy over her career, without the restrictions of a label system" and will promote her future work "a variety of avenues such as iTunes, mobile carriers and other diverse and innovative channels."

She is, however, still upbeat about "Discipline" -- "I think it's a fun album," she says -- and particularly about her live show, which she describes as "two hours of dance," with 35 choreographed production pieces on a stage designed to show "a taste of...the future." The repertoire spans her career and, according to Jackson, was drawn from requests made on her call-in line for fans.

"This show is all for the fans," Jackson says. "They tell me what they'd like to hear, what they'd like to see, what they want. And this is what I'm trying to give them."

Jackson fans will also get their wish for some more visual product from her as well. "We've been talking about something for TV, also a DVD," she notes, the latter of which may include "past stuff I've done...that wasn't previously released," including possibly a Japanese TV performance that was filmed in High Definition during the Rhythm Nation 1814 Tour in 1990.

"It's just a nice package for the fans," Jackson explained. "They've been asking for it for so long, and they truly deserve it."

Also on her plate is a book about her weight issues that Jackson co-writing with her nutritionist, David Allen. A title and publication details are expected to be announced soon, but Jackson says the idea for the book was inspired by her fans.

"Everybody asks me -- men, women -- how did I do it?" says Jackson, who's had two sensationalized -- and initially secret -- marriages, to fellow singer James DeBarge in 1984, and to Rene Elizondo from 1991-2003. "Even young people will come up to me and they have an issue with their weight and they're very concerned.

"So it's basically my journey; it's not just this sterile, weight loss and how to do it book, but my journey even from when I was a kid...being an emotional eater. It takes you through those moments in my life up 'til now and what worked for me. And hopefully within that...they'll find something that does work for them and a nice place for them to be content with who they are."

Janet Jackson and LL Cool J perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 27) at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $49.75-$129.75. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.


It's the end of September, and the outdoor concert season, comes to an end on an estrogen tip, with performances by leading ladies of pop and soul throughout the metro area. In addition to Janet Jackson's Rock Witchu song-and-dance extravaganza, the Detroit environs will play host to...

Celine Dion: After a titanic five-year run in Las Vegas -- 723 shows for three million fans and $400 million in gate receipts -- the Canadian diva has returned to the provinces, and the States, with her Taking Chances Tour, and her first area visit since 1998. She also has a new single, "My Love," taken from an upcoming greatest hits set. And remember, it ain't over 'til the skinny lady sings "My Heart Will Go On." Dion and Gordie Brown perform at 8 p.m. Friday (Sept. 26) at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are$49.50-$152.50. Call (248) 377-0100.

Santogold: We know Celine, Janet and Mary J. by their first names -- but Santogold only [i]has[/i] one name (O.K., she's really Santi White from Philadelphia, but that's pretty well below the radar). She's been causing a stir, too, with the uniquely electro-styled rock blend found on her self-titled debut album. Check out the future when she headlines Goldrush with A Trak, Pastic Little and Low VS Diamond at 8 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 27) at St. Andrew's Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Tickets are $18.50 in advance, $22 day of show. Call (313) 961-6358 or visit www.livenation.com.

Mary J. Blige: The last time the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul passed this way, she was sharing the stage with rapper Jay-Z. This time she has her own show to do, celebrating the chart-topping, platinum success of her 2007 album, "Growing Pains" with opening acts Robin Thicke and David Young at 7 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 28) as the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $39.75-$99.75 pavilion only. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com. -- Gary Graff

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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