Interview with Mike Litherland from the "Induct Janet Jackson to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" Campaign

Here at we take pleasure in discussing as many Halls of Fame as possible, and engaging in the debate of that topic. It is a topic we are passionate about, but admittedly our scope has always been intentionally general. With the amount of categories that we cover; we have to!

Induct-Janet-FB-ProfileWith that in mind, we thought it would be fun to conduct a series of interviews with individuals who are conducting online campaigns to get their respective artist/athlete inducted to the Hall of Fame.

The first person we reached out to was Mike Litherland, from Atlanta, Georgia, who operates the Induct Janet Jackson to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame campaign. It has a very active Facebook page, holding a sizable near 14,000 Likes.

Janet Jackson has been eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2007, and a case could be made that she was the biggest female singing star in the world at one point in time. Jackson ruled Pop and R&B airwaves for fifteen years, and while casual music fans may not view her as influential, music history has shown that a large amount of Janet clones existed and she was a seamless bridge from Pop to R&B in a way that few could match.

We asked Mike a few questions about his push to induct Janet Jackson to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On a personal level, what first attracted you to Janet Jackson's music, and what you say is her essential album for someone not familiar with her work to listen to?

“I first remember Janet from her appearances on Good Times. From a musical perspective, though, I remember when she performed ‘Young Love’ on American Bandstand. I was pretty young at the time, probably 11 or 12, but there was just something about her that stood out and made me take notice. I became a 'fan' when Control was released and she completely dominated the music world and the Pop, R&B and Dance charts. I remember hearing Janet all over the radio - and seeing her videos all over the place. I remember being obsessed with Friday Night Videos (on NBC, maybe?). They had a segment called Friday Night Video Fights and my siblings and I would call the 800 # to vote any time one of Janet's videos was in the battle. Those were good times. On MTV, Janet was one of the first African-American female artists to be placed in heavy rotation.

It's difficult to decide on one essential album. As a fan, I consider ‘The Velvet Rope’ to be her masterpiece. It's raw, powerful and very introspective and covers a lot of territory. A very, very close second would be Rhythm Nation 1814. It's quite possibly one of the most cohesive albums in history and would probably be the best pick to play for someone who isn't familiar with Janet's work. Both albums have been listed on Rolling Stone’s list of greatest all-time albums.”

What triggered you to want to try to get her inducted?

“I've enjoyed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for years and years. I grew up in Dayton, Ohio so I've actually been to the museum three or four times. I began following the nominations and inductions ten or so years ago. I had no idea how political and convoluted the nomination process is/was. I remember being surprised that Madonna was inducted after her first year of eligibility. Once that happened, though, it made Janet's nomination chances also appear to be a no-brainer. Janet's been eligible since 2007 and still hasn't even received a nomination yet, though. It's definitely a head-scratcher since Janet rivaled and matched her peers of that time (MJ, Prince, Madonna) and they've all been inducted. Janet broke a lot of records and doesn't always get the credit she deserves. I guess that's why I decided to get involved and created the Facebook page a little over a year ago.”

FB-Cover-Photo-Janet v1What are the main attributes that Janet has in her music that makes you feel she is a Hall of Famer?

“Janet was able to emerge out of her brother's shadow and even eclipse his popularity during the 90's. She's a very savvy businesswoman and her commercial success is undeniable. She was virtually unstoppable in the 80's and 90's. The Rhythm Nation World Tour in 1990 remains the biggest debut tour of any artist in music history.

The Nomination Committee doesn't factor commercial success into their nomination equation, though. The fact that Janet wrote, co-wrote and co-produced on all albums from 1986's Control through 2006's 20 Y.O. shows how involved she was in the creative process of all of those hit records and albums. That should make quite a statement.

Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis created a magical dream team of sorts. Contrary to what some may believe, Janet Jackson was no puppet. She was in control, both literally and figuratively - and proved it with each release being more successful and having a bigger impact than its predecessor. Janet Jackson's music is the soundtrack of the 80's, 90's and 00's.

And then the 2004 Super Bowl performance happened, damaging her career & musical legacy…but we'll get to that in a bit.

Why do you think she has been ignored by the Hall, and not even nominated at this point?

“The fact that Janet hasn't released a new studio album since 2008 has probably hindered her chances a bit. She starred in several hit movies and had a very successful Number Ones Up Close & Personal tour, but has remained out of the spotlight of the public eye for several years now.

I also think there's a bias in the NomCom. It seems to be a very political process and decisions seem to be heavily influenced by a handful of the more persuasive members of the committee. And obviously, there's quite a backlog of deserving artists. At some point, though, they're going to have to add Janet to their nomination discussions. I'm just pushing to have that happen sooner rather than later.

Rumor has it that she's finishing new music now, so hopefully the dry spell is just about over. If the new album is even moderately successful that should also send quite a statement. To have such an incredibly successful career and still be doing it after 30+ years is pretty amazing…and shows tremendous longevity.”

FB-Cover-Photo-LIVE v1Do you think (serious question) that the Super Bowl Nipplegate affected her chances?

“I won't spend a lot of energy on this question, but the Super Bowl fallout seriously damaged her career and I'm sure that's had an impact on her nomination chances. Should it have a negative impact on her nomination, though? I mean - what's more "Rock & Roll" than that?!?!

In all seriousness, though, I do wish someone could explain why Janet was completely blacklisted in the industry and destroyed by the media yet Justin Timberlake remains unscathed and more popular than ever. I'll leave it that.”

If Janet gets inducted, Is there another act that you feel passionate about getting inducted?

“I'd really like to see The Cure nominated again. I think The Smiths and Depeche Mode are also deserving. Other artists I'd support are: Joy Division/New Order, Bjork, and De La Soul off the top of my head. Other deserving artists that I hope to see nominated when they become eligible are PJ Harvey, Alanis Morissette and A Tribe Called Quest.”

We thank Mike for his time and we look forward to doing more of these type of pieces in the future.

You can like this page on Facebook at this link:

Or you can follow them on Twitter at @inductjanet
Last modified on Thursday, 19 March 2015 18:47
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+2 #4 Rhythm Nation 1814 2014-08-27 08:54
Had to believe that since this interview posted, the induction Facebook page has grown to 20,000 supporters.
+6 #3 Lisa Greco 2014-04-24 16:49
This was a very smart and enlightening interview. I would love to see Janet Jackson get inducted into the Hall of Fame! I didn't realize just how involved she was in ALL sides of her music. Good luck Miss Jackson!
+4 #2 Bogus Indy 2014-04-24 12:24
I'm not all that familiar with Janet Jackson's music, but I'm honestly a little surprised that she hasn't already been nominated.
+7 #1 Scott Banks 2014-04-20 14:12
Cool interview. Janet does deserve a closer look by the Nomination Committee. It'll be interesting to see how the public responds if/when she releases a new album.

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