Formerly missing-in-action pop-R&B stylist JoJo has essentially finished, but not yet released, her long-awaited third album. In the meantime, the singer (born Joanna Levesque) has issued a three-single EP called “III” through her new label Atlantic. She still can’t quite believe that nine years have passed since “The High Road.” her last effort. “Just to have new music out feels a bit surreal. And I’m kicking myself, smacking myself in the face in disbelief, but it’s all in happiness,” she says, recounting her showbiz survival saga.
You’ve penned a new song about saving your soul. Did it feel like you’d lost it?
I felt like I wasn’t sure who I was. I wasn’t able to release music or sing for people, and I didn’t own my own voice for a while – literally, contractually. So I was definitely depressed. I felt powerless. So that was a low point for me, for sure, in feeling like that.
You got tied up in legal battles with your old label, Blackground Records, citing irreparable damage to your career.
Yeah. I’m definitely not the first, and I won’t be the last, to have to sue to own their voice again, to get free, to be able to release music. And once we settled the lawsuit, the hundreds of songs that I had recorded for the past few years, I didn’t have the rights to anymore. So I had to start fresh again, and it was a bummer. But I recorded over 70 songs when I started the new album process with Atlantic, so there’s definitely enough for an album. It’ll be coming out first quarter, all new stuff, the beginning of a new chapter.
By all rights, there should be some incredibly angry songs.
I went through stages, and anger is something that I felt for a long time. I recorded several incarnations of the third album, and I was angrier when I felt like I had no way out. But on the other side of it, when I was able to move forward, I didn’t want to be angry anymore. I was so f—ing tired of fighting, of crying, of spending money, talking to lawyers and feeling like it was hopeless. I wanted to have a victory. And I really wanted to leave all that anger at the therapist’s office.
You’ll soon return to film acting, too. What have you learned from this ordeal?
How to separate business and personal, and what not to take personally – that you’re viewed as a product in this industry, and you can’t let that fact destroy you as a person. This is what I’ve chosen for my life. But I also want to be sane and happy.
IF YOU GO
Where: Social Hall, 1270 Sutter St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 24
Tickets: $21.50 (sold out)
Contact: (888) 929-7849, www.axs.com