Janet Jackson was officially inducted into the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Friday (March 29), with Janelle Monae performing the honors. According to Pitchfork, Monae praised the “legendary queen of black girl magic” for breaking barriers and drafting the blueprint for writing socially conscious music, along with spotlighting Jackson’s unmatched dancing talent and her timeless music catalog.
“Our fearless leader is one of the biggest selling artists in music history,” Monae reportedly said listing Jackson’s accolades including her five Grammys, nine No. 1 albums, and Oscar nomination. “Quite simply, y’all, there is only one Janet.”
The “Pynk” singer shared her first memory of seeing a clip of a young Jackson performing. “ It was just so refreshing to see someone who looked like me and million of other little black girls around the world,” said Monae. “And even then, at the earliest stages of her career, you could see she was a different kind of star.”
The speech also highlighted how Jackson owned her “sexual freedom” through music and used her platform to honor friends lost to HIV and AIDS. Monae added that Jackson gave her the “confidence” to “embrace all of me” while writing her Dirty Computer album.
Upon accepting the honor, Jackson thanked several people including Monae, Questlove, longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and her entire family. “When I was a kid, my dream wasn’t to be a singer,” Jackson confessed. “I wanted to go to college and I wanted to be a lawyer. It was my father’s [Joe Jackson’s] dream. He wanted me to become this wonderful performer, he encouraged me. He was the first to encourage me and music became my passion.”
Jackson pointed out that her brothers, The Jackson 5, were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997. “As the youngest in the family, I was determined to make it on my own,” she continued. “I wanted to stand on my own two feet. But never in a million years did I expect to follow in their footsteps. Tonight, your baby sister has made it.
“I didn’t do this alone though, there are a world of people that supported me along the way and I just wanna begin by thanking my incredibly strong family, my wonderful mother and father, as well as my sisters and my brothers, you guys never stopped believing in me.”
Jackson went on to thank T.V. legends Don Cornelius and Dick Clark for putting her on a national platform, and choreographers that she has worked with over the years. The superstar also revealed that she never thought she was a good dancer. “But I loved the way dancing made my body feel.”
To close, Jackson called for more women to be inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame and thanked fans for supporting her “every step of the way.” Lastly, Jackson gave a sweet shout out to her toddler son, Eissa. “He wakes me up every single morning singing his own little melodies,” she gushed. “He’s only two, you guys. And I want you to know you are my heart. You are my life. And you have shown me the meaning of real unconditional love.”
Jackson didn’t perform during the induction ceremony because she’s focused on preparing for her Las Vegas residency, Page Six reports.
Additional 2019 inductees included, Def Leopard, The Cure and Stevie Knicks who became the first woman to be inducted twice. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony airs on HBO on April 27.
Click here to read Jackson’s full speech.