When you are all talk and no action, nothing can change. Having something to say with action behind it to make a difference brings about change. I was honored to have the chance to talk with the creator of a movement who stands for change. Mike Litherland is the creator of the #InductJanet initiative. This movement is all about getting the legendary artist Janet Jackson inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. To have everything it takes and still not be inducted is why Litherland started this campaign.To raise his voice.
CS: Thank you for taking time out for this interview
ML: My gratitude back to you for making this happen. And congratulations on the launch of your new blog!
Inspired By A Queen Of Pop
CS: The name of the movement is Induct Janet. Obviously, Janet was your inspiration, right? With many fans on her side now, do you think 2017 will be her year?
ML: Yes, it’s all about Janet. And obviously #InductJanet is all about rallying for Janet’s Rock Hall induction but it’s also about celebrating her career and legacy. That will always remain at the core, but it’s grown into something bigger – it’s helped a bit to unite a lot of the fans. Janet is very gracious and so humble and it’s not her style to boast. So, that’s where we (the fans) enter the equation.
“Unbreakable” is such a great album. The fans love it and there’s an amazing message there. Janet received great critical acclaim for the album and it made numerous ‘best of 2015’ lists. I’m cautiously optimistic for another nomination this year. But, the Nomination Committee is tough to predict. Janet’s nomination last year took place prior to the release of the album, so the critical response and the #1 Billboard debut should keep Janet on the shortlist of artists to include on the 2016 ballot.
Starting A New Initiative
CS: Janet’s been nominated since 2007, so why now? Why wait until 2012 to start a campaign to induct Janet? I mean shouldn’t something have been done sooner?
ML: Well, to clarify – she’s been eligible since 2007 but didn’t make the nomination ballot until last year. There were online petitions and the like prior to #InductJanet. I’ve been pretty vocal about her snub for a long time – along with many others. When Janet continued to be snubbed year after year, I turned my frustration into motivation and decided to try to take some action. A ‘strength in numbers’ approach. So, I launched the Facebook page to see if other fans would join in to help in making some noise. At that time, Janet had been away from the music scene for a few years. So, I felt it was important to keep Janet on the radar of the Nomination Committee and remind them that Janet truly exceeds ALL criteria* for consideration. I’ve always tried to maintain a positive and professional approach. That’s definitely one of the main guiding principles of this campaign.
(*Musical excellence, critical acclaim, influence, innovation, etc. are key criteria – overall chart success and sales figures aren’t key considerations. They can certainly strengthen an artist’s resume and case for induction, but massive sales and chart success alone won’t always cut it.)
Separating Janet From The Rest
CS: Seeing how Janet Jackson inspired a diverse group of people, what is it that has people wanting Janet to be a mainstay in the industry? Why is it that so many entertainers can sit down for 20 years and come back but Janet can’t take a break–and if she does take a break people have something to say?
ML: Interesting question. In reality, Janet’s been in the music game since 1982. She busted her ass to emerge from her brother’s shadow. She accomplished so much and has inspired countless artists that followed her. She’s held in very high regard in the industry and highly respected by colleagues, peers, industry insiders, etc. That Jackson last name carries a lot of pressure. Anything and everything is scrutinized these days. Janet’s reached a level in her career where she’s truly done it all – and has nothing left to prove. And that, to me, is what makes “Unbreakable” such a great album. It’s definitely a Janet Jackson album — her sound, her style, her lyrics, her vibe. (Big shout out to the best-producing duo of all time – Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis) They weren’t chasing trends or trying to fit a pop radio mold. The message of “Unbreakable” will resonate with fans for a long time to come.
The Super Bowl fallout did a lot of damage. I’m not going to say much more about it – aside from the fact that Janet Jackson is one of the strongest and most resilient human beings on this planet.
The Future Of Induct Janet
CS: With the Induct Janet campaign that’s taking place, do you believe that one day your movement will bring about change in a way? Will it give way to other well-deserved artists to be honored? In the sense that the hall would ease up on who they let in. Do you think your movement will open their eyes?
ML: Well, there are several copycats already out there. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? Fan campaigns for other deserving artists have been around for decades. I wanted to capitalize on the social media aspect (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and really use the social platform to raise awareness and champion Janet’s nomination and induction. I think that’s what separates us from just another fan campaign.
Induct Janet Gets Noticed
Once it started to gain some traction – and the Nomination Committee took notice, and some celebrities and insiders also began supporting, I knew we were onto something. There are also quite a few supporters of the campaign that aren’t even necessarily fans of Janet’s music, per se. But, they respect her career and completely agree that she should be inducted.
Too many of the fan campaigns tend to skew negative and bash the Rock Hall and the Nomination Committee. We took a completely different approach. All focus was on Janet’s career, her worthiness and always delivered in a professional tone/manner.
CS: Did you have any idea that the movement would be as successful as it is?
ML: I had a good feeling early on that we would help in keeping Janet’s name on the NomCom’s annual radar. But, no I never imagined it would take on a life of its own the way it has and that so many would join the cause. And there really are so many that are incredibly influential in the effort. We’re all in this together. I’m amazed at the level of talent and creativity amongst the fans.
The Induct Janet Campaign
CS: How did you come up with the whole idea for this project?
ML: I was an admin of an online Janet fan community with a few other fans way back when and we would all vent our frustrations about Janet’s continued nomination snub. It all grew from there. Shout outs to Tahira Ra, Don Newton, Joanna Robinson, J.C. Neilson – definitely some early contributors. And most recently Lamont Hicks, Jordan Listenbee, Junior Hubbard, Kelly Alexander, Jackie Coble. There are so many others that could be named. The entire fan base has rallied, stepped up and represented the movement well. And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.
CS: Seeing how much Janet appreciates her fans, would you be open to interviewing Janet if you were given the opportunity to, about being inducted into the hall?
ML: Without a doubt! That’s a highly unlikely interview, but what an incredible honor that would be. The fans want this so badly for Janet. And I’m so passionate about it because she’s so deserving of this honor.
CS: Will there be more to this project after Janet is in? I mean will you be a force in other areas?
ML: I’ll likely keep the social media pages around from a fan/news perspective. Outside of that, I’m not sure where else this journey will take me. Once I commit to an idea, I’m all in though. It’s been a lot of fun and such a fun ride. It’s a lot of work, but it’s all done out of love.
CS: What’s next for Induct Janet?
ML: The latest effort was the ‘100 Fans – 100 Reasons – #InductJanet’ video montage that we launched in conjunction with the folks at Janet Euphoria. We got 100 fans from around the world to record important milestones from Janet’s career. Since her fanbase is incredibly diverse, we wanted the video to reflect that. Lamont worked his editing magic and it’s really wild to see the involvement from the fans. Everybody that participated did such a great job! For those that may not have seen it, definitely, check it out on YouTube. ‘100 Fans – 100 Reasons’
The 2016 nomination ballot will be announced in early October. I’m cautiously optimistic that Janet will once again make the ballot, but it’s impossible to predict. The induction announcement typically takes place in early December and the induction ceremony typically takes place in early April.
For fans that want to get involved, there’s a bunch of information at Induct Janet Jackson and @InductJanet on Twitter. The Nomination Committee doesn’t publish an email address, but they provide a snail mail address. And they read what we send.
There are online voting sites that get heavy traffic and lots of activity from Rock Hall enthusiasts and members of the voting body, etc.
Future Rock Legends: Future Rock Legends – Vote yes and leave a supportive comment.
Not In The Hall Of Fame– To vote, just register your email address. And leave a supportive comment, of course.
CS: Any other Janet related projects?
I’ve been quietly supporting Junior Hubbard’s “Jan Fam Movement” for several months. Their next big stop is my hometown of Atlanta, GA in November. So, I plan to put a lot of energy into that because it’s incredibly cool and it’s going to be a blast. Also, I’m a firm believer in supporting each other and lifting one another up. More info about Jan Fam Movement at https://www.facebook.com/janfammovement/
I’m sure we’ll hear from Janet soon regarding their new bundle of joy. It makes me smile just thinking about it because Janet’s wanted this for so long and she’ll be such a good mom. Janet deserves nothing but joy and happiness and she truly seems to have found it! #InductJanet #RockHall2017