Singer-songwriter and actress JoJo is a ludicrously talented vocalist. But she also uses her voice to speak out about social issues and stand up for what she believes in, and encourages her millions of fans to do so too.
Her dedication to empowerment and social justice makes her the perfect addition to our incredible lineup of artists performing at the Global Citizen Prize award ceremony, premiering around the world from Dec. 19. The event will celebrate and uplift the activists and world leaders who have worked against the odds in 2020 to stand up for their communities and make progress towards the UN’s Global Goals that work together to end poverty.
JoJo, whose real name is Joanna Noëlle Levesque, grew up in Massachusetts. She was just 13 when she released her first hit single, “Leave (Get Out)”, in 2004. The release saw her become the youngest ever solo artist to reach number one on the US Billboard charts and catapulted her to international fame.
The single was followed by a debut album, JoJo (2004), which sold 4 million copies. That success continued into a second album, The High Road (2006) which included another huge hit, “Too Little Too Late.”
Following legal troubles with her record label, JoJo went on a hiatus. It took almost a decade before she would return with a third album, Mad Love (2016), and luckily for fans she has been busy touring and releasing music ever since.
Ahead of the album release four years ago she told Grazia that pop had evolved since she started out, saying there is “more room to be yourself” now, and pointed to artists like Adele, Ellie Goulding, and Alessia Cara as inspiration.
She also said that she was learning to stop over-apologizing, and had been trying to unlearn society's expectations of women. “I feel like society expects us to be sweet and make sure we don’t come across as a bitch,” she said in 2016. “If you walk down the street and someone bumps into you I find myself saying ‘Oh gosh I’m sorry’ when I’m actually not. I’ve become a lot more choosy with my apologies so they have more weight than they used to.”
Her 2020 album Good to Know is all about growing up, getting to know yourself, and gaining confidence, and critics praised it for showing her maturity and musical innovation. Its lead single, “Man”, which is all about finding happiness being single, has garnered almost 4 million views on YouTube.
JoJo’s songs often carry a message of empowerment and standing up for yourself and others, and that carries through into everything she does.
When she’s not performing or writing new music, she’s using her platform to raise awareness of serious social issues — such as the opioid crisis in New England, an issue close to her heart after losing her father to addiction. In 2016 she featured in an emotional YouTube video speaking about the pain her family had been through and argued that people struggling with addiction should be treated with compassion.
In the run-up to the 2020 US election she spoke to fans on her Instagram account about the importance of exercising their right to vote, too.
And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, JoJo has been keeping followers who are stuck at home entertained with beautiful acapella versions of her songs and covers on Instagram Live.
Audiences were also treated to a 30 minute virtual performance from JoJo which she filmed for Global Citizen’s Together at Home series of nightly at-home concerts in March, to help people feel connected while staying at home during the pandemic.
The 29-year-old is also gearing up to release a Christmas album, December Baby, in celebration of Christmas and her upcoming birthday on Dec. 20 — just the day after Global Citizen Prize premieres in the US and around the world!
And of course, JoJo will feature in collaboration with long-time duet partner Tori Kelly on Global Citizen’s album of iconic cover songs, STAND UP — executive produced by Raphael Saadiq, and released in partnership with Parlophone Records and Atlantic Records — which is coming out on Dec.18.
Join Global Citizen in December 2020 to celebrate the leaders among us who have stepped up against a backdrop of unprecedented global challenges to take action for the world we want — a world that is fair, just, and equal.
The broadcast and digitally streamed award ceremony will also feature inspirational stories of human strength and unforgettable performances that will bring together artists, activists, and global leaders to remind each of us that, together, we will come out of this year stronger. Find out more about the Global Citizen Prize here.