Rebbie Jackson is an American singer and the eldest member of the famous Jackson family of musicians, which includes Michael Jackson. She was born and raised in Gary, Indiana, and began her religious journey at a young age, following in the footsteps of her mother. Rebbie began her musical career in Las Vegas in the 1970s, when she first performed on stage with her siblings.
As their fame grew, the Jacksons signed a contract with ‘CBS Records.’ They also appeared on the television variety show ‘The Jacksons.’ She desired a solo musical career after achieving fame, and her debut album, ‘Centipede,’ was released in 1984. The album was a moderate success, as were the two albums that followed it, namely ‘Reaction’ and ‘R U Tuff Enuff.’ Following this, she took a 10-year hiatus before releasing her second album, ‘Yours Faithfully,’ in 1998. Her brother Michael Jackson’s record label, MJJ Music, distributed this album. When Michael died in June 2009, his siblings paid tribute to him at the memorial service by singing ‘Heal the World’ and ‘We Are the World.’
Childhood & Early Life
Rebbie Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, on May 29, 1950, to Joseph and Katherine Jackson. She was the eldest of the Jackson family’s ten children. In his spare time, her father, who worked in a steel mill, would jam with his band. He used to bring his children to his jamming sessions, which aided the Jackson children in developing a strong interest in music.
Katherine, a ‘Jehovah’s Witness,’ was a deeply religious woman. She raised all of her children to be devout Christians. Rebbie stated in an interview that as the eldest child in the family, she was responsible for the majority of her siblings as they grew up. She would mostly look after them. Rebbie graduated from Gary’s ‘Theodore Roosevelt High School.’
Following the announcement of her marriage to her boyfriend, Nathaniel Brown, at the age of 18, she caused a schism in the family. She told her parents she adored him and desired to marry him. While her father was vehemently opposed, her mother wholeheartedly supported her. Her father wished for her to pursue a musical career and feared that her early marriage would put an end to her ambitions.
Rebbie eventually married Nathaniel. Her brothers had formed a music group called ‘The Jackson 5’ by that time. All of the Jackson siblings came together in 1974 to organize a concert in Las Vegas. They rose to prominence overnight.
In 1976, the Jacksons parted ways with their label ‘Motown,’ and later joined forces with ‘CBS Records,’ which proved to be a watershed moment in their lives.
‘CBS’ hired the Jackson brothers to appear on their variety show ‘The Jacksons.’ Except for Jermaine, who had decided to remain loyal to the label ‘Motown,’ the show featured all of the Jacksons. The show was only on the air for a month at first, but its success compelled network executives to keep it going. The show was the first of its kind in that it starred members of an African-American family as the main characters, and it helped to make the Jacksons a household name in America.
Rebbie, on the other hand, was not yet ready to pursue singing as a career and preferred to keep it as a hobby. She believed that acting was a far better career path for her, but the show’s producers praised her singing style and encouraged her to continue with her musical endeavors. Jackson began her career as a background vocalist for other singers and even performed in cabarets. She became pregnant in her late 70s, which put a temporary halt to her career.
Rebbie returned to the music scene in October 1984 with her full-length debut album, ‘Centipede.’ ‘CBS Records’ distributed the album. Rebbie, on the other hand, prioritized her family over her career.
The album, as expected, did not do anything magical for Rebbie and was only a moderate success. It peaked at number 13 on the ‘Billboard’ music charts and 63 on the ‘Billboard Top 200.’ Despite the fact that the album was marketed as her solo effort, it was a collaborative effort of her siblings. The album’s title track was the most successful, selling over a million copies.
Michael Jackson wrote, produced, and arranged the song ‘Centipede,’ which was one of his first glimpses of his talent. The song peaked at number four on the ‘Black Singles Chart’ and was later certified ‘Gold’ by the ‘Recording Industry Association of America’ (RIAA). Michael, who had already achieved success with ‘Thriller,’ greatly aided Rebbie in making the album a moderate success.
Although most critics were underwhelmed by the album, they all agreed that Rebbie was talented. Rebbie released her second album, ‘Reaction,’ in October 1986. Once again, the album’s critical and commercial success was limited. It built on the success of its predecessor, with the title track, ‘Reaction,’ becoming the album’s most popular single.
Rebbie released her third album, ‘R U Tuff Enough,’ in 1988. She stated that she worked harder on this album than she had on her previous albums combined. The third album, too, failed to make an impression, and ‘MTV’ reviews stated that it “struggled.” The album was a moderate success, selling 3,000,000 copies in the first few months of its release.
Rebbie was devastated by her perceived failure, and she decided to take a long break from music. For a decade, she was absent from the music scene. She announced the release of her fourth album, ‘Yours Faithfully,’ in 1998. Rebbie’s younger brother Michael had already established his own record label, ‘MJJ Music,’ and she recorded her album with his label.
Her fourth album, much to her chagrin, received mixed reviews from both fans and critics. Despite being hailed as a talented singer, Rebbie’s musical career never took off beyond a certain point. Furthermore, Michael Jackson’s international success harmed her and her siblings’ chances of achieving global recognition, as they were largely overshadowed by his success.
Rebbie Jackson dated Nathaniel Brown in high school for a long time before marrying him in 1968. Her decision drew a lot of criticism from her family, but she stood firm. The family eventually agreed to the marriage, but her father did not accompany her down the aisle.
Stacee, Yashi, and Austin were the couple’s three children. Nathaniel died in 2013 as a result of an illness.
Her brother Michael Jackson’s untimely death not only shocked the world, but also the Jackson family. The death was widely reported in the international media. Although it was assumed that Rebbie would be the caregiver for Michael’s children, custody was granted to Katherine, Michael, and Rebbie’s mother.