[Sincerely humbled, Timika graciously shared her first concert story from Ms. Jackson’s Velvet Rope tour in 1998. - Jon]
For as long as I can remember since childhood I have known Janet’s and Michael’s music being the first artists whose music connected with me deeply. So when Janet’s tour for The Velvet Rope was announced for Rosemont Horizon, I begged my mom to let me go and dad agreed to get tickets. Being 11, I couldn’t go by myself so my mom’s best friend, Carmen, and her fiance went with me. Janet was already a superstar but to me she was more than that. Janet was and still is apart of my heart and life.
Velvet Rope has a lot of personal meaning for me. This album was a source of comfort and strength for me at a time when I was feeling that I didn’t matter to certain members of my family. I felt like I wasn’t special enough for myself. You’re thinking, what would an 11 year old know of feeling lonely and self doubt? My home home life was important and the songs and message of The Velvet Ropemeant everything for me. Janet was vulnerable and sharing another part of her own life that dealt with her personal sadness and reflection. Janet’s message was love yourself for YOU.
That July day finally arrived, and I couldn’t believe I was seeing my idol for the first time ever. JANET JACKSON! On the way to Rosemont Arena — now known as Allstate Arena — my emotions were on a high, and all I could feel in my heart was I’m seeing JANET JACKSON, the legendary Janet. We arrived at the arena, got to our seats and my butterflies grew. N’SYNC opened for her, which was exciting to see my favorite boy band at the time. But all the extra happiness in me was being saved for Janet.
Once It was finally time for Janet to take the stage, the lights went out and the arena filled with energy beyond words. The Velvet Rope book appeared on stage — a perfect symbol of this era for my favorite artist. Janet has said her albums are her diaries, and the book opening meant this journey I was about to embark on was a deep one full of emotions of sadness, love and self-worth.
With the sounds of the first track, “Velvet Rope,” Janet appeared on that stage and I literally was crying and shaking. I really connect with the lyrics — “we have a special need to feel that we belong” — and my heart in that moment felt sadness. But hearing it sung by Janet herself, I knew she was telling me, “Timika, I am here with you on this journey to feeling special in who we are.”
Being in Janet’s presence was all that I wanted. I sang along to every song, and emotions just overwhelmed me. I felt Janet was there for me even more hearing the lyrics live and hearing her beautiful soft voice. Her emotions in her music held my heart. Also, Janet danced like there was no tomorrow. I danced my little heart out and sang with every ounce within me — still in shock that I was seeing the legendary Janet.
During another of my favorite songs from this album, “Special,” a slideshow of pictures of Janet as a child with her mother and family flashed up on the stage. I wanted to feel special to my family and have the same special feeling of importance that Janet had along with a sense of truly loving myself. Janet sings, “We need to remember, that love lies deep within ourselves, we have to, want it so, it starts with us and only us.” Then she gave that beautiful radiant smile of hers, and I knew Janet was telling me I was going to be okay. The love within me that I later found as I got older was there all along and that I knew Janet loved me, too. Within my heart I knew Janet thought each and every one of her fans are beautiful in who they are. Janet loves us for the beauty we have inside, and just having that feeling from my idol was and is still enough for me till this day.
Having Janet for my first concert means so much more because that concert comforted me when I needed to cry, smile and laugh. More importantly, Janet helped my 11-year-old self not feel alone, unloved or scared to grow up. Feeling beautiful in all that I am today, I can thank Janet from the bottom of my heart for being there for me. Being a voice for so many through the dark times, Janet helped us discover who we are and guide us to the light in ourselves that shines. I and many others know we are beautiful in all that we are no matter we face.
It makes me emotional being able to share my experiences of seeing Janet during her epic Velvet Rope era. This will hopefully touch other Janet fans and many people who have a deep emotional connection to musicians and artists who truly impact their life through their art.
As Janet says, “Follow the passion that’s within you.” For me, that means to always follow your heart and what you feel within your heart. I thank Janet for helping me find what matters to my heart.
First: Janet Jackson
When: July 25, 1998
Where: Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, Ill.