For the first time in two decades, Janet Jackson is performing "What About," her song about domestic violence and cheating, on tour — and it's having a powerful effect on both her and her audiences. On Saturday, Sept. 9, in Houston, the singer and new mom broke down at the end of the tune, which was accompanied onstage by a dramatic enactment by dancers of the story of physical abuse that unfolds in the song.
"This is me," Janet said, her voice shaking as she recovered from crying with her hand over her face.
According to E! News, the singer hasn't performed the song — which includes lyrics like "what about the times you hit my face? what about the times you kept on when I said no more, please?" — since 1999, two years after it was released.
Fans who attended the show captured the moment on social media, with many of them saying they wanted to hug or hold Janet after seeing her tears.
Janet split from her husband of five years Wissam al Mana this spring, just a few months after they welcomed their first child, Eissa. In 2016, she postponed her Unbreakable tour to focus on starting a family with Wissam, making the news of their breakup more surprising.
After their split, reports surfaced suggesting he had been controlling in the relationship and often dictated what she could wear onstage and when she could or could not leave the house.
The singer confirmed the split on May 1 in a video announcing she had changed the name of the tour from Unbreakable to State of the World and would be back onstage as of Sept. 7.
E! reports she appeared to be emotional while performing "What About" during that show, in Lafayette. Louisiana, as well, although it didn't seem to take the same toll it took on her in Houston over the weekend.
Janet also spent time visiting with victims of Harvey while she was in the city, tweeting that her thoughts were "also with those affected by the [earth]quake in Mexico, [Hurricane] Irma and storms in S. Asia and Africa."