Did you know that JoJo was raised in New Jersey and has just released two new albums?
From when she hit the scene with the chart-topping “Leave (Get Out)” in 2004, becoming the youngest solo artist in history to top the charts at age 13, within only a few years JoJo went on to sell over seven million records worldwide and achieve an abundance of hits. However, her music career came to a halt when legal battles with her record label nearly saw the deletion of all her success, past and present. Resilient as any Jersey Girl would be, JoJo came out victorious and is back with her fourth studio album Good To Know, her first holiday album December Baby which hit shelves October 30th and her single “The Change”, which served as the official anthem of the Joe Biden 2020 Presidential campaign.
Congratulations! Your fourth studio album, Good To Know, premiered at #1 on the Billboard R&B Albums Chart and has received praise all the way from the Associated Press to Time Magazine. After enduring such a difficult legal battle that must feel good?
JoJo: It is definitely encouraging! To be honest, I don’t just want to luxuriate in the positive write-ups. I am truly excited about being able to continue to create music as well as being able to improve as an artist. After such a colorful experience within this industry, it felt validating for people to be so receptive to my new work.
The new sound vocally and musically, as well as lyrically, showcases a mature sound much more in line with R&B than your typical Pop record. Even your new holiday album December Baby is a very soulful body of work. What was your inspiration behind these new albums?
JoJo: I was really inspired by the people I was working with and having raw conversations about shame, love, sex and overall introspection. We were primarily listening to hip-hop, 90s R&B and jazz influences which supported the content of the lyrics as they were more soulful and sensual. Hence, R&B ended up being the foundation of the records, although it has always been the root of my music career. When you take away the singles from my earlier albums, the rest of the content was low key R&B. This new music feels like me returning to where I am most at peace.
The new deluxe edition of Good To Know features about half a dozen new tracks including collaborations with Tinashe and Demi Lovato. What was it like working with those two artists in particular?
JoJo: They are so bomb! I just love them as women and the path they are carving in their careers. I have tremendous respect for both of them. It was different than previous collaborations because we were not able to be in the studio together. With 2020 being the weirdest year of all time, there was a lot of virtual communication on a routine basis. Nevertheless, working with them was so easy and effortless. I love being a woman and I think it is the most exciting time to be a woman in music. These collaborations brought me so much joy and you can feel the energy on the tracks. It is not a competition; it is women bringing the best of themselves to the table. They are authentic, which is not too common in this industry.
You were due to tour earlier this year, but the Coronavirus Pandemic pushed the Good To Know Tour back to 2021. I know you are slated to perform at Terminal 5 in April 2021. Are you looking forward to getting back on the road and what can fans expect this time around?
JoJo: It is hard to even think about what that might feel like because 2020 has thrown everybody for such a loop. I almost don’t even permit myself to think that far ahead. It will be interesting to think how the layout will be. Of course, I am anxious to get back to performing because that form of connection is my favorite facet of my career. Being on Instagram Live and Zoom were just not the same, which is why I have loved getting to perform “The Change” on various television programs in honor of the Joe Biden 2020 Presidential Campaign leading up to the election. It has allowed me to get my feet wet before the tour. I am a little nervous albeit definitely excited. I am sure I will be like a rabid dog ready to attack with love! Since I was unable to tour over the past year, I really want to up the ante and ensure this is the best tour I can deliver.
You still remain the youngest solo artist to debut at #1 on Top 40 radio. Legal battles with your former labels, Blackground Records and Da Family Entertainment, caused you to basically re-record your previous albums. Why did you have to re-record your first two albums and what is your advice for artists in similar positions?
JoJo: They were not available on streaming services. The labels I was signed to at 12-years-old did not make deals with streaming platforms which is the same reason why Aaliyah’s music is not available either. I was witnessing my history being erased, and I could not sit idly by. There had to be some creative solution which led to me covering my first two albums. I tried to make both sound as much as possible like the original because my fans deserved it.
You grew up and spent much of your youth in New Jersey. What was your experience like? Do you still have a place here?
JoJo: I lived in Edgewater and attended the Edgewater and Leonia school districts. I actually met one of my best friends during my school bus commutes. I am so grateful for my New Jersey experience because that is my family. I even recorded my debut album while I was still living in Jersey. The Garden State is so special to me.
We posted to social media that we would be interviewing you. Readers recalled you in Aquamarine, guest roles in various TV shows and are curious if you are interested in returning to acting in a large capacity?
JoJo: I am, albeit I am not in a rush to do something random. I want it to be something really dope. I am currently developing a concept my team and I have been fleshing out during quarantine. This is something I am excited and passionate about. I am not going to discuss too much but it would see me returning to acting, which is a challenge I am looking forward to.
I understand while in quarantine you’ve gotten much more into cooking and mixology with your weekly Instagram Happy Hours. Are you going to continue throughout winter, and more so, what is your recommended Happy Hour cocktail?
JoJo: Probably. I bring on everyone from celebrities to simply communicating with fans. I love good conversation, and there is nothing better to break the ice than a delicious strong beverage. Lately I have been enjoying gin with cucumber, mint, and a light club soda. Cheers to the new record and a better 2021!
JoJo is back. Visit IAmJoJoOfficial.com for tickets to the Good To Know Tour