As she closed out this year’s Essence Festival in New Orleans last night (July 8), Janet Jackson gave an emotional tribute to father Joe Jackson, who died late last month following a battle with cancer. “It was really hard for me. I didn’t know what to do,” Janet revealed to festival attendees as she tried to fight back tears. “I didn’t know how to move forward, if I should cancel this festival or the entire tour.”
She then mentioned a conversation with her brothers, who she said reminded her of their father’s “drive” and hard work to take the family to a major level of success. “We are a black family that came from Gary, Indiana and we broke all kinds of records around the globe,” Janet told the crowd. She capped the moment by saying that if her father were here now, he would have told her to “finish what she started.” Addressing Joe directly, she added: “I love you so much. This one’s for you,” before launching into a performance of her The Velvet Rope hit “Together Again” as a childhood photo displayed on an overhead screen.
Though Joe Jackson’s treatment of his children growing up sparked controversy, his family has mourned his death and made a point to celebrate his contribution to the success of the Jackson 5 and the Jacksons’ solo careers, particularly those of Michael and Janet. As she mentioned at Essence Fest, Janet is currently gearing up for a U.S. tour later this summer. Watch a clip of Janet Jackson’s tearful dedication to her late father below.