Popularly known as JoJo, Joanna Noelle Blagden Levesque is an American vocalist, songwriter and actress from Massachusetts. She began her illustrious career as a child artist, performing at theatres and appearing on television shows. Blessed with gorgeous beauty and a vast vocal range, she rose to fame from the sets of ‘America’s Most Talented Kids’. She topped the Billboard Pop Songs chart when she was only thirteen, and was named the youngest to ever peak the U.S. Billboard 200. She manifested her love for music in her self-titled debut album, followed by her second album ‘The High Road’ and two mixtapes thereafter. JoJo has been an inspiration for several aspiring young artists. The star singer leaped into the television and film industry continuing to belt out chart busting numbers until a controversy with her record label brought a halt to her flourishing career. Audiences wondered if she would manage to continue her spell in the industry, but she overcame all odds, and with her latest comeback releases, EP ‘III’ and her album ‘Mad Love’, she has againreserved her place in the top ranks of the music industry, and has proved to the industry that she is here to stay.
Childhood & Early life
JoJo was born in the outskirts of Boston at Foxboro in Massachusetts on 20th December, 1990. Her mother Diana, was a church choir soloist and she performed at music theatres. On the other hand, her father had no professional background in music but was a music lover.
From the age of two, she grew up listening to her mother practice hymns and listened to R&B songs on the radio. And even before she began speaking full length sentences, she would sing nursery rhymes adding a peppy twist to them.
JoJo never received any vocal training, she learnt to sing by imitating her mother’s vibrato, pitch and range. However, all didn’t go well for her, at four her parents divorced and she moved into a one-room apartment with her mother.
Finding ends difficult to meet, her mother began cleaning at several places to earn extra income in order to provide the best she could for her daughter. However, JoJo still felt left out at school in comparison with other kids.
When she was six, she began performing at theatres, seeking new avenues to express her talent, she auditioned for ‘Kids Say the Darnest Things: On the Road in Boston’. She was immediately cast on the show, where she worked with Bill Cosby.
Gaining recognition from the show she sang ‘Respect’ and ‘Chain of Fools’ on ‘Destination Stardom’ and later received a call from ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ to perform for them. She even performed on the television show ‘Maury’.
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Teen Pop Star
She enrolled as a contestant on NBC’s ‘America’s Most Talented Kids’, which brought her into spotlight. However, she lost the competition to Diana DeGarmo.
The same year, she auditioned for ‘Blackground Records’ after Vincent Herbert insisted that she work with the label, she impressed theproducer with her vocal dexterity and was instantly signed on.
In 2003, she began working on her album. Her debut single “Leave (Get Out”, was certified gold by RIAA came and out the following year. She had a tour organised for her before her album hit music stores.
Her debut album titled ‘JoJo’ ranked fourth on U.S. Billboard 200 and sold over 95 K copies in the first week. Her second single ‘Baby It’s You feat. Bow Wow’ was also certified gold by RIAA and placed 22 on the U.S. music chart.
In 2005, she performed for the victims of the Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina at a charity event. She also hosted and performed for ‘City of hope National Medical Center’.
In 2006, she hosted the countdown event before the Grammy Awards. Her skills as a host was now evident to producers and casting directors at large, hence she received many offers for television, including the role of ‘Zoe’ in ‘Hannah Montana’, but she declined the offer as her priority wasn’t acting.
Stardom & Leaked Songs
With a prosperous career in music, she soon found herself in the television and film industry. She played ‘Hailey’ in the 2006 movie ‘Aquamarine’ and shared screen space with Robin Williams in the comedy drama ‘RV’. Both movies were mega hits.
In October 2006, her second album ‘The High Road’ released and was positively reviewed.The album reached number three on the U.S. Billboard 200.
Her first single from the album ‘Too Little Too Late’ jumped from the number 66 spot to number 3, making it the greatest climb inmusic charts. However, the following two singles of the album ‘How to Touch a Girl’ and ‘Anything’, didn’t make it to the top of the list, but showed much promise.
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In 2008, she got busy with her third album and by 2009 it was ready and awaiting a distribution deal, when misfortune struck and the songs form her upcoming album were leaked on ‘YouTube’.
This came as a jolt to her career, and she filed a lawsuit against the ‘Blackground Records’ accusing them of marring her career. She claimed 500 K dollars from the label in remuneration for her loss.
The dispute was finally settled outside court in 2009, and her third album was to be released under the banner of ‘Interscope Records’. However, the release didn’t unfold.
As professed by JoJo herself in an interview, the altercation with her label was the most trying time in her career, and it took a while before she could get back on her feet.
The Comeback Queen
Since she didn’t want to keep her audience waiting for an album, she released aMixtape, ‘Can’t Take That Away from Me’ in 2010. Her first single from the mixtape ‘In the Dark’ was a subtle hint that she was back in business.
In the middle of the year, she released her other single ‘Disaster’ on radios. Even though it met some criticism it managed to pull into the U.S. billboard at number 87.
Feeling the need to accentuate her performances, she opened for the ‘Joe Jonas & Jay Sean Tour’, this definitely helped her harness the attention she deserved.
In 2012, she released another mixtape called ‘Agape’. Her singles ‘We Get By’ and ‘Andre’ followed soon after, the mixtape received positive feedback, and portrayed her as an assertive pop artist.
Once again in 2013, she filed a lawsuit against ‘Da Family’ and ‘Blackground Records’. Stating that the damage to her career was ‘irreparable’ and the label had to pay for her forfeiture.
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She also demanded to be released from her illegitimate contract which was signed when she was a minor, as it bound her to the label for a period more than seven years.
After another settlement outside court, she signed a deal with ‘Atlantic Records’. She immediately released an Extended Play named ‘III’ and released three singles ‘When Love Hurts’, ‘Save My Soul’ and ‘Say Love’.
Her third album ‘Mad Love’ was released in October 2016, with her first single ‘Fuck Apologies’ releasing two months prior. The song was written to send out a strong message to those who stood in her way of success.
Her album reached number 6 on the U.S. billboard charts, defining her place in the music industry after almost a decade of turmoil, and reiterating the triumph of her teenage days.
Her breakthrough into the music industry was her participation in the 2003 show ‘America’s Most Talented Kids’ for performers under the age of fifteen. After the show she signed a deal with ‘Blackground Records’ and released two hit albums certified gold by RIAA.
Her song ‘Leave (Get Out)’ was a revelation for music lovers. It ushered in the age of new talent as the song reached the number one spot on the U.S. music charts. It was also the most requested video in MTV’s ‘Total Request Live’.
Her latest album ‘Mad Love’ has sealed her fate in the industry, and is demarcated as one of the best comeback albums of all time, her album mounted to the sixth spot on U.S. music charts in 2016.
Awards & Achievements
She was nominated at the ‘2004 MTV Video Music Awards’ in the category of ‘Best New Artist’ making her the youngest ever to be nominated for the category.
Personal Life & Legacy
Until the age of 18, she lived with her mother in New Jersey. She later moved out and presently resides in Los Angeles. After high school she was accepted into Northeastern University, but she chose to concentrate on her career instead.
She is a philanthropist and has extended support to various organisations such as ‘Make a Wish Foundation’, ‘World Vision’ and ‘She’s the First’. She is an active volunteer and has performed free to generate funds at charity events.
She dated footballer, Freddy Adu in 2005, after they met on MTV’s ‘Fake ID Club’. They broke up the following year, but continued to remain good friends.
JoJo was offered her first record deal when she was six. However, her mother declined the offer as it was too early for JoJo to begin a career.