The daughter of musically inclined parents, JoJo was born Joanna Levesque in Brattleboro, VT, and moved to Foxborough, MA, with her mom at age 4 after her parents divorced. Growing up, JoJo fell in love with her mom's soul and folk records, everything from Etta James and Aretha Franklin to Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, as well as pop vocalists Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. "I appreciated 'N SYNC and Backstreet Boys, but I was listening to Ella Fitzgerald and George Benson," she says. "I was a friggin' weirdo. The first album I ever bought was The Best of George Benson."
After gaining experience performing in various showcases and competitions, JoJo appeared on Kids Say the Darnedest Things with Bill Cosby at age 7 and was offered her first record deal at age 8, which her mother turned down feeling that her daughter was too young. After appearing on America's Most Talented Kids at age 11, JoJo was signed to Da Family Entertainment Which released her debut album through Blackground/Universal Motown Records in 2004.
JoJo's debut album went platinum in the U.S., and sold three million copies worldwide propelled by the success of its hit singles "Baby It's You" and the gold-certified "Leave (Get Out)," which hit No. 1 at Top 40, making JoJo, then 13, the youngest solo artist ever to score a No. 1 single in the U.S. In 2006, JoJo released her second album The High Road, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200 and spawned the hit single "Too Little Too Late," which broke the record for biggest one-week jump into the Top 3.
"You can't really prepare yourself for success," JoJo says of her child stardom. "I wish I had been more present, but I think when you're 13, and you're traveling the world and making money, it's easy to get lost in it. I didn't lose myself, but I don't think I really absorbed what a unique opportunity it was."