With the ultimate decision involving custody of Michael Jackson‘s three young children still very much up in the air, speculation turned to the possibility that MJ’s sister Janet would raise Prince, Paris and Blanket . But Janet might not actually be the aunt who eventually rears the kids. Rather, Michael’s 59-year-old sister, Rebbie, might play that role, according to a report from TMZ.
The Web site said that even if Jackson’s mother, Katherine, assumes custody of the children, it will be Rebbie who cares for the children on a day-to-day basis. In fact, Rebbie is said to be living with Katherine and the kids at the family’s home in Encino, California.
So who is Rebbie Jackson? In the weeks since Michael’s death, his older sister has maintained perhaps the lowest profile of any of the Jackson family . But, like all of her siblings, Rebbie was for a time a professional singer.
Born in Gary, Indiana, in 1950, Rebbie — whose first name is actually Maureen — is the oldest of the nine Jackson siblings. While her brothers began performing as the Jackson 5 in the 1960s, Rebbie didn’t get a chance at a professional singing career until 1976. When the family group left Motown, she began to contribute background vocals to acts like the Emotions and Betty Wright.
Rebbie finally got her shot at a solo debut in 1984 with the LP Centipede, which featured covers of songs by Prince (“I Feel for You”) and the Miracles (“A Fork in the Road”). Following the astonishing success of Thriller, Michael produced Rebbie’s biggest hit off the album, a single also called “Centipede,” which rose to the #4 spot on the Billboard R&B chart and eventually went gold.
Two years later, Rebbie’s follow-up, Reaction — which highlighted collaborations with Isaac Hayes and Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander — didn’t fare as well commercially. The title single, though, managed to crack a few Billboard charts. Her third album, R U Tuff Enuff, also struggled, managing to eke out one Billboard R&B top 10 single.
Rebbie ended up taking a decade-long break between studio albums, returning in the late ’90s with an album released off Michael’s own record label called Yours Faithfully, which contained a remixed version of “Centipede.” It would prove to be the eldest Jackson’s final album to date.
While Rebbie pursued a career as a recording artist, she also raised a family of her own. After marrying her childhood friend and fellow Jehovah’s Witness, Nathaniel Brown, in the late ’60s, she and her husband had two daughters and one son, at one point moving the family to Virginia. All of their children are now grown, and Rebbie now is back in California.