In a heartbreaking moment caught on film by fans in the crowd, Janet Jackson broke down in tears on stage in the middle of her Houston, Texas, concert on Saturday night. At the time, the singer was performing the song “What About” from her iconic 1997 album The Velvet Rope.
Accompanying the song, which is about domestic violence, Jackson’s female dancers acted out the volatile lyrics.
“What about the times you yelled at me?/ What about the times I cried? You wouldn’t even hold me/ What about those things?/ What about that, what about that?/ What about the times you hit my face?/ What about the times you kept on when I said, ‘No more please’/ What about those things?” the lyrics ask.
Jackson seemed OK, if a bit shaky, at the start of the song. More than once during the song, though, Jackson appeared overcome with emotion. At the close of the song, as the crowd cheered, Jackson gestured to the female dancers acting out the abuse, sobbing, “This is me.”
Jackson and her businessman husband, Wissam Al Mana, split in April of this year, following five years of marriage. The couple have one child together, a son named Eissa who was born in January.
Although relatively little is known about the couple’s private life, tabloids have frequently rumbled with rumors of trouble.
“She thought he had become too controlling during the pregnancy, and she had already allowed him to dictate her appearance and even the way she performed at concerts,” a source told Page Six, adding, “It drove her crazy, and she felt she was losing her fan base.”
It’s unclear at this point whether Jackson’s emotional breakdown points toward alleged domestic abuse in her marriage to Al Mana.