For JoJo, the journey has always been filled with music. “I don’t remember ever not singing. My mom says I’ve been producing sounds since I was two days old. Of course when you’re born, you scream, but she likes to say that I was doing it with intention,” JoJo says with a laugh. The daughter of musically inclined parents, JoJo was born Joanna Levesque in Brattleboro, VT, and moved to Foxborough, MA, with her mom at age 4 after her parents divorced. “My mom and I shared a room and a bed and paint from the walls would fall into my cereal,” she recalls. “We weren’t well off, but my mom never let me feel like I wasn’t loved or taken care of,” she says. “She worked really hard to make sure I was comfortable and got to participate in every activity.” Growing up, JoJo fell in love with her mom’s soul and folk records, everything from Etta James and Aretha Franklin to Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, as well as pop vocalists Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. “I appreciated ’N SYNC and Backstreet Boys, but I was listening to Ella Fitzgerald and George Benson,” she says. “I was a friggin’ weirdo. The first album I ever bought was The Best of George Benson.”
After gaining experience performing in various showcases and competitions, JoJo appeared on Kids Say the Darnedest Things with Bill Cosby at age 7 and was offered her first record deal at age 8, which her mother turned down feeling that her daughter was too young. After appearing on America’s Most Talented Kids at age 11, JoJo was signed to Da Family Entertainment Which released her debut album through Blackground/Universal Motown Records in 2004. JoJo debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Top 200, went platinum in the U.S., and sold three million copies worldwide propelled by the success of its hit singles “Baby It’s You” and the gold-certified “Leave (Get Out),” which hit No. 1 at Top 40, making JoJo, then 13, the youngest solo artist ever to score a No. 1 single in the U.S. (She still holds that record). In 2006, JoJo released her second album The High Road, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200 and spawned the hit single “Too Little Too Late,” which broke the record for biggest one-week jump into the Top 3. In 2010 JoJo released her first ever mix tape, Can’t Take That Away From Me, which saw over 185,000 downloads the first week of release. The follow up mixtape, Agàpē, was released in 2012 to critical acclaim. Most recently JoJo released a free EP, #LoveJo, to her fans on Valentine’s Day 2014 as a thank you for all of their support. Time Magazine wrote: “The varied set sees her interpreting classic songs with inventive production and, as ever, chill-inducing vocals”.
Also a talented actress, JoJo appeared on the TV programs The Bernie Mac Show and American Dreams, and the feature films RV (with Robin Williams) and Aquamarine, which earned her a Teen Choice Award nomination for Choice Breakout (Female). She was also nominated for two Billboard Music Awards for “Leave (Get Out)” and an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist making her the youngest artist ever to be nominated for a VMA.
“You can’t really prepare yourself for success,” JoJo says of her child stardom. “I wish I had been more present, but I think when you’re 13, and you’re traveling the world and making money, it’s easy to get lost in it. I didn’t lose myself, but I don’t think I really absorbed what a unique opportunity it was.”
As she gears up to release her long awaited 3rd album through her newly signed recording agreement with Atlantic Records, JoJo is most grateful for the support of her fans. “They are tough and persistent,” she says. “They’re an army and their messages have gotten me through some dark times, because I feel a responsibility toward them. They’ve been so faithful, I just want to deliver for them. They deserve it. Especially the really devoted ones who have waited it out with me. I really want to make them proud. I want them to feel like this 3rd album was worth the wait.”