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Young Superstar

Interview with JoJo

March 6, 2005


It's inevitable that as well known performers age, and music changes, younger performers will always emerge to take their place on the music charts. This past year the youngest performer to explode upon the scene has been 14-year-old Joanna Levesque -- better known simply as "JoJo."

JoJo grew up outside Boston listening as her mother sang hymns. She started singing with her mom soon after she could speak, but even at that early age she would put her own style into everything she sung from nursery rhymes to pop songs.

photo of JOJO
JoJo with Angela
JoJo's early childhood was not a privileged one. While most of her friends loved to go shopping or to the movies on weekends, JoJo was left behind. Her mother earned a living cleaning houses and singing for churches, while the two shared a bed in their one room apartment. But even when times were lean, JoJo always kept her faith and continued to strive for more as she continued to build her confidence while singing to anyone who would listen.

One day JoJo saw a small newspaper advertisement for auditions on a new kids TV show. It was interesting to learn that JoJo and I had something in common: We both made our TV debuts on Bill Cosby's Kids Say The Darndest Things. While I was saying the 'darndest things' as Cosby interviewed me at age nine, JoJo belted out a beautiful song on the show which led to an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show. The next thing she knew, JoJo had offers from producers and record companies worldwide. JoJo and her mom, Diana Levesque, sorted through all the offers and decided to sign with Background Records, and her career has skyrocketed from there.

A few months ago she released her self titled debut album, and her single "Leave (Get Out)" topped billboards singles sales chart. While promoting the album, I recently had the opportunity to speak with JoJo.

I congratulated JoJo on the success of her first album, and asked her if all the work that goes along with her success has left her missing out on all the everyday things of being a normal kid. "There are some things I miss" JoJo replied. "Like I'm home-schooled now so I don't get to see my friends as much as I'd like to, and I'm traveling a whole lot, but this is really my choice, so I love doing it, and I'm really grateful for my success.

"My friends understand that I don't get to hang out as much as I used to, but I'm doing a lot of other great things."

Who influenced her most musically? "Well, I listened to everyone from Aretha Franklin to Bob Seager, to the Beatles, but I have to say that my mom is probably my biggest influence. She really has a great voice."

So who was the most exciting person she has met so far? "Without a doubt, Bow Wow was the coolest. I've always been a big fan of his. He's so cute, I was really freaking out when I met him."

photo of Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby
w/Angela age 9

JoJo collaborated with Bow Wow on her second single, Baby It's You, which continued the success of her debut album.

So what does the future hold for this teen diva? "Well I'm really proud of the fact that I wrote a few songs on my first album, and now I'm just trying to follow up on that success by writing better songs and evolving as a person. It's really not much different than when I sang for my mom in our apartment a few years ago. If anyone will listen I will continue to sing."

I think people will be listening to JoJo for many decades to come.

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