JoJo JoJo was born in Foxborough, Massachusetts; her father is of Irish/French/Native American descent and mother of Polish American descent. (her surname, "Levesque", comes from French for Bishop and her middle name, "NoĆ«lle", means Christmas). She grew up in a one-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts, in a low-income family; her father, Joel Levesque, is a blues singer and her mother, Diana, sang in a church choir and worked as a house cleaner. Her parents divorced when she was four, and she has since lived with her mother in New Jersey; her father lives in New Hampshire.
During her early years, JoJo listened and learned as her mother practiced hymns. She started singing when she was two years old by imitating her mother, putting her own spin on everything from nursery rhymes to pop tunes. As a child, she enjoyed attending Native American festivals and acted locally in professional theaters.
After auditioning for Kids Say the Darndest Things, JoJo was given a spot to perform on the show, singing Aretha Franklin's "Respect". Host Bill Cosby and the crowd at Faneuil Hall responded overwhelmingly to her performance. Soon after, The Oprah Winfrey Show contacted her, inviting her to perform. Reminiscing, she has stated that "when it came to performing, I just had no fear".
After appearing on talk shows and gospel festivals, JoJo had a spot competing on the television show America's Most Talented Kids; even though she lost to Diana DeGarmo, record producer Vincent Herbert contacted her and asked her to audition for Blackground Records; during her audition for Barry Hankerson, Henkerson told her that late singer Aaliyah's spirit had brought her to him. She was signed to the label, and had recording sessions with famed producers like The Underdogs, Soulshock and Karlin.
JoJo's live demo, which is only available on eBay link, featured covers of several well-known songs, including Mack Rice's "Mustang Sally", Etta James's "It Ain't Always What You Do (It's Who You Let See You Do It)", Aretha Franklin's "Chain Of Fools" and "See Saw", Stevie Wonder's "Superstition", "This Is The House That Jack Built" and The Temptations' "Shakey Ground".
JoJo's platinum-certified debut single, "Leave (Get Out)", was released in 2004. The track became an international hit, peaking at #12 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at #2 on the UK Singles Chart. When the single hit #1 on the Top 40 Mainstream, she became the youngest solo artist to have a #1 song in America and the youngest nominee for the MTV Video Music Awards (Best New Artist for "Leave (Get Out)", in 2004). Her debut album, the platinum-selling JoJo, followed; it peaked at #4 on the US Billboard 200 and within the top forty of the UK Albums Chart. She co-wrote two of the album's songs, as well as wrote and co-produced one full track. Her second single, the gold-selling "Baby It's You" - which featurs rapper Bow Wow - peaked at #22 in the US, though it went top ten in the UK.
The final single off the album, "Not That Kinda Girl", failed to make waves on the charts, perhaps due to underadvertisement and a music video that was considered by some to be off-par with her previous work. The song achieved number 8 on TRL for one day but then fell from the charts, never to appear on the countdown again. JoJo subsequently cancelled her tours.
In 2004, JoJo participated in "Come Together Now", a tribute to the victims of the 2004 Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. That year, she was personally requested by First Lady Laura Bush to perform at the 2004 Christmas In Washington special. Despite performing at other events for the Republican Party, she has stated that she does not "agree with the things that Bush has done in office. I'll leave it at that". JoJo has also hosted and performed at the Hope Rocks Concert to benefit City of Hope and co-hosted the 2006 TV Guide Channel's Countdown to the Grammy Awards.
JoJo's sophomore album will be released in the summer of 2006. A single, which has not yet been selected, will be released in April of 2006; JoJo is working with producer Scott Storch on the album. On the Jamm X Kids All Star Dance Special, JoJo premiered a new song entitled "Anything", which samples Toto's "Africa".
JoJo has stated that her third album will not be released until she is 18, citing that she wants audiences to "see growth" in her music.
After appearing on the television series The Bernie Mac Show and American Dreams, JoJo was cast opposite Emma Roberts and Sara Paxton in Aquamarine, playing one of two teenage girls who discover a mermaid. The film opened on March 3, 2006 and performed moderately at the domestic box office, opening at #5 with $7.5 million. Her next film will be R.V., a comedy starring Robin Williams currently scheduled for a release in April 2006, a month after her first film.
JoJo has not had any professional acting training before being cast in the roles, but was given an acting coach on the set of Aquamarine. JoJo will be billed as "Joanna JoJo Levesque" in her film roles, but will still be credited as simply "JoJo" for her music work.
JoJo's music will remain her main focus, as she has stated that she prefers singing to acting.