Janet Jackson ’s apparent marriage split, just three months after becoming a mum for the first time at 50, is yet another twist in the journey of a woman once reckoned to be the world’s raunchiest pop star.
By the time she was spotted last October strolling down a London street in a hooded kneelength black poncho, her hair covered by what appeared to be a veil, Janet had already adopted a more modest stage presence.
Flashing the flesh was something the singer’s fans had become accustomed to seeing.
Her infamous 2004 “wardrobe malfunction” during her half-time Superbowl performance – when her stage costume was ripped apart by Justin Timberlake to expose her right breast decorated with a sequinned nipple shield – will go down as one of television’s more outrageous moments.
But her husband, Qatari businessman Wissam Al Mana – worth up to £800million – was known to be uncomfortable with her overtly sexual image and Janet’s progressive handle on both sexual liberation and her own body.
After the couple secretly wed in 2012, – Janet’s third marriage – it is said friends felt it was he who encouraged her to tone down her image.
Now, just months after the birth of her son Eissa, the sister of the late Michael Jackson has shocked fans yet again with her reported marriage breakup.
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Janet Jackson welcomes her first child at 50
While one source has said the split is amicable, others say the marriage had been on the rocks for months – and that soon after the birth Janet was seen without her wedding ring. Rumours of a breakup then were denied.
But the Mirror can reveal that Janet’s mother Katherine – 86-year-old matriarch of the Jackson family – flew to London last month for crisis talks to encourage her daughter to stay with Wissam for the sake of their newborn baby.
Her plea appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
A source says: “Katherine wanted to act as a mediator in the final weeks, discussing with the couple how staying together was the right thing for the baby’s sake and their long term happiness.
“The Jackson family is littered with divorces and she was keen for Janet’s marriage to work.”
Insiders say the hope was that the baby, believed to have been conceived with assistance from fertility doctors, would help bring the couple closer.
But it seems Janet struggled to resolve the clash between her sexy showbiz image and new expectations of modesty.
She has never confirmed or denied that she had become a Muslim – yet she took to frequently ending concerts with the blessing “Inshallah” (if God wills).
Around the time of her reported conversion, one insider claimed: “Janet feels like she has found a home with her new religion and has told members of her family about it. They all completely respect her choice.
“She’s spent a great deal of time studying the religion and its followers.”
At her most recent concerts she had abandoned her x-rated references to sex and the revealing costumes.
An insider says: “Wissam did not go and see Janet when she finally went on tour last year. He prefers her by his side away from the stage.
“He had hoped she had started a new chapter of her life, leaving the raunchy outfits behind her – but performing, and music, is very much part of Janet’s identity.” The tour, to promote her No 1 Unbreakable album, had been postponed while she and Wissam focused on “planning their family”.
Wissam, 42, is CEO of the multinational Al Mana business conglomerate, his net worth reckoned to be four times Janet’s own wealth.
As well as their London house, the couple have homes in Manhattan’s Trump Tower and Qatari capital Doha.
According to unconfirmed reports in the New York Post, some in Janet’s camp believe that Wissam’s attitude was bordering on controlling, and that she felt she had lost control of her stage image after her 2014 concert featured a lot less flesh.
“She thought he had become too controlling during the pregnancy, and she had already allowed him to dictate her appearance and even the way she performed at concerts,” the US newspaper reported from an alleged source who works closely with the couple.
Whatever the truth, the Nasty singer’s love life has not been plain sailing, with two failed marriages under her belt.
Her first, to her childhood sweetheart, American soul singer James DeBarge, lasted only a few months and was annulled in 1985. Her second, to songwriter Rene Elizondo, lasted eight years, ending in divorce in 2000.
Janet once revealed the pressure she endured to have children thoughout her adult life. Speaking a decade ago she said: “I get so much pressure from people I don’t even know and I think, ‘My God, am I missing my moment?’
But while everlasting love might have escaped her, that “missed moment” for motherhood arrived in January.
She has described it as “the icing on the cake”. She may no longer be the devoted wife, but it seems likely she will be the devoted mother.
And that, in the words of her 1993 hit, is the way love goes.
The three husbands…
1984-1985: Janet eloped aged just 18 with soul singer James DeBarge, but the couple split after just a year.
1991-2000: Janet wed dancer Rene Elizondo Jr, but reportedly paid him £8million after an acrimonious divorce.
2012–2017: Marriage to Wissam Al Mana is said to be over just three months after she gave birth to their son Eissa at the age of 50.
And the lovers…
2002: Matthew McConnaughey
The actor clicked with Janet after meeting at the 2002 Grammy Awards. Short-term relationship burned itself out within a few weeks.
2004: Lee Ryan
Reportedly romanced Janet in a London hotel in 2004 while boyband Blue were in their heyday. Rumours never confirmed.
2007: Michael Jordan
Sources have long claimed the US basketball legend, above right, tried to woo Janet in late 2007, but nothing came of it.
2008: Jermaine Dupri
Janet dated American Boyz to Men singer for many years on-and-off, but they eventually split in 2009. At one point it was so serious that she even spoke about having kids with him.
From raunchy pop star to Muslim single mum at 50 – just what is going on with Janet Jackson? – Mirror.co.uk