JoJo used this word two times during VH1’s chat with her during our Lift Ticket to Ride event in Colorado over the weekend. And if any pop star knows about triumph, it’s her. The 25-year-old singer–who exploded onto the mainstream scene with hits like “Leave (Get Out)” and “Too Little Too Late”–has been through her fair share of hardship. A seedy contract left JoJo in music limbo for seven years, unable to officially release material for her seismic fan base. But thanks to a group of crafty lawyers, she is free. A new album is on the way. She triumphed.
In more ways than one, too. In the studio, yes, but also on stage. JoJo has been sprinkling slay on the late-night circuit over the past few months, but she took it to a whole new level Friday night during an intimate Lift Ticket to Ride performance. Clad in a sharp black jacket, JoJo stripped down hits like “Leave (Get Out)” and “When Love Hurts,” letting her out-of-this-world pipes supply the bells and whistles. It did not disappoint. (She also did a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Just Friends” that gave even the most cynical person in the room goosebumps.) JoJo is a vocal tour-de-force, and the show was a breathtaking sign of things to come.
We discussed some of those things with JoJo on the slopes–well, near them. Plus, you need to read the advice she has for Kesha, who is currently going through a similar period of music purgatory. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
How do you feel now that the contractual drama that put you in music limbo is finally over?
It felt like a weight that I didn’t know was necessarily going to be lifted was lifted. I didn’t know if it was possible. I did a lot of crying. I think it ushered in a real spirit of thankfulness because not everybody is able to move forward with their careers after going through something like I did. It does feel a bit like a renewal. I have renewed energy, renewed drive and purpose.
Your music is so sonically diverse. What do you think is the commonality in your songs?
The commonality is that I love it all, and it makes sense to me because I don’t listen to one genre. I start my day with jazz and will transition to R&B and perhaps go to country if I’m in the car with my mom and then go to hip-hop and then go to mainstream pop, whatever that is today. Dance music really turns me up. It makes me feel triumphant and sexy and fly. All those things are really what I love. I think the diversity is a reflection of me.
Can you give us insight into your next album?
Coming into 2016, I had this wave of inspiration that hit me. I wanted to go back in the studio and tie things up and write about some things I had been through. I just did a 23-city tour last fall through winter. My father passed during that time. I went through a break-up. I was going through a lot of things in my personal life as well as figuring out what 2016 was going to hold musically. I just wanted a chance to express those feelings, so I got back in with some people I’m super honored to be working with and excited to co-write with. The album is diverse because I’m inspired by so much. I’d like to think of it as a pop album because it’s for everyone.
When do you think a song is finished?
It’s a process that drives me insane, especially when there isn’t a definitive date. I haven’t stopped being in the studio in the past seven years, so I just keep making music. There are things I know don’t need to be touched. It’s a case-by-case basis.
Kesha is going through something similar to what you did. Contractually, she is not able to make music. Do you have any advice for her?
Talk to Shinaan & Hayes. They were my lawyers. They got me out of it. If you can–which I don’t know if she can–continue to release music to your fans via the Internet. Obviously, we’re not in this for money. I feel like she has a similar drive. She’s not motivated by money, because I’m not, either. This is just what I love to do. Continue to talk to your fans. The situation she is in is absolutely terrible. I definitely feel for her.
Remember the time we had JoJo sing the alphabet? Iconic.