The Wisdom of JoJo

Pop's newest princess knows more than you think. Just ask her.

Kiss FM Star Party, with JoJo, Kimberley Locke, and Lloyd The Odeon, 1295 Old River Road, the Flats 8 p.m. Friday, September 10, $19.75 advance/$20 day of show, 216-241-5555
Kids say the darndest things: 14-year-old JoJo is here - to help you.
Kids say the darndest things: 14-year-old JoJo is here to help you.
If you're like most people, you're heartsick over an 11-year-old friend who's in an abusive relationship. You've begged her to get out, but she's still hanging in and hanging on, even after she found another girl's number on his cellie.

Until this summer, there simply wasn't an answer to this crisis. Then along came JoJo and the single "Leave (Get Out)," and all those 11-year-olds started listening and stopped taking that mess from their preteen men. At least according to JoJo, who told MTV recently that she's often thanked by young women who realized, after checking out her breakthrough hit, that it was OK to give their no-good guys the boot.

And in fact, the 14-year-old voice of experience insists her relationship pointers aren't just kid stuff.

"It's everybody. It's anywhere from 9 to like, 39, honestly," JoJo says of those who've taken the song to heart. "It really means a lot to me when they relate to 'Leave (Get Out)' and say, 'My boyfriend was a jerk.' It's good that I can help them through my music, because that's exactly what it's there to do."

Sure, your first inclination is to respond Kids Say the Darndest Things! (Which just happens to be the TV show that gave Boston native JoJo, a.k.a. Joanna Levesque, her big break; then six years old, she wowed Bill Cosby with her rendition of "Respect.")

But then we got to thinking: No one was thanking Dr. Phil for his advice before he'd finished puberty. Maybe JoJo has more in common with Oprah than the hapless Britney or clueless Xtina. Maybe she has other insights into this mixed-up, muddled world of ours.

It turns out she does. Her self-titled first album, an unusually fine teenage concoction, shows the robust-voiced JoJo further along in her development than almost any female R&B vocalist you can think of at a comparable age. And even if she hasn't made it to high school yet, the confident young singer is ready to share what she's learned with you. So pay attention.

JoJo on sex

"I just go with the flow. I don't feel that I have to [dress sexy] now. If I choose to, you know, then I choose to. But there's a way you can be sexy and classy. I think Alicia Keys, Aaliyah -- those are two great examples of how you can be sexy and classy and tasty. Tasteful, I mean."

JoJo on race

"I prove myself every day just because I'm young, just because I'm white, and I sing R&B. I'm on a black-operated label. I mean, it's called Blackground!

"Growing up, people always wondered why I didn't like Britney Spears. I was more into Ella Fitzgerald and George Benson and stuff like that, and people wondered why. And I didn't have an answer for them."

JoJo on friendship

"There are a lot of haters. But I would say I have about seven really close friends. And it's great to have them to lean back on."

JoJo on revenge

"I did a mall show in Boston. And that was interesting, just to see how people who were so mean to me in the past all of a sudden were like, 'Oh my God, JoJo, we should've hung out more!' No, you should've been nice to me!"

JoJo on motherhood

"My mother is my mother and my manager, so it's the best of both worlds. She's never gonna let anything funny happen. Nothing weird."

JoJo on politics

"I'm not quite sure how [her appearance at the 2000 Republican National Convention] came about. Of course, I just wanted to sing for whoever would listen, so we said 'yes.'

"And actually, I was approached to do the Democratic National Convention in Boston this year, but I don't think it'd be right for me to be associated with political parties. I'm not gonna speak about politics. I'm not gonna endorse anybody."

JoJo on being provocative

"I've been talking to a writer from Thirteen, which I thought was an amazing movie. I wanna make a movie that makes people think, that bothers them a little bit. I just really wanna do something that makes people think and question things."

Scroll to read more Music News articles
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.