Veteran R&B singer-songwriter, Joel “JoJo” Hailey, has been an integral factor within the confines of the fabric of urban music for the better part of the past three decades. Raised in Monroe, North Carolina, and having grown up in a very religious Pentecostal family, the church “sanging” siblings, back then known as Little Cedric [K-Ci] & the Hailey Singers, united with another musically gifted pair – also brothers; DeVanté Swing and Mr. Dalvin – ultimately forming the quartet that later became the iconic Jodeci. Long story short, armed with a 29 song/3 tape demo the, then determined, foursome drove all the way from the Tar Heel State to The Big Apple with their sights clearly set on – at that time – a fledgling recording imprint founded by Andre Harrell that went by the name of Uptown Records. A deal was soon secured, and The Bad Boys of R&B were born.
1990 through ’95 saw the release of the collective’s first three multi-platinum bodies of work; Forever My Lady, Diary of a Mad Band, and The Show, the After Party, the Hotel. Then – to the astonishment of millions – the group disbanded…but not before delivering a succession of, now classic, entries; “Forever My Lady” “Stay” “Come & Talk To Me” “I’m Still Waiting” “Lately” “Cry For You” “Feenin'” “My Heart Belongs To U” “What About Us” “Love U 4 Life” and “Freek’n You,” among others.
Enter K-Ci & JoJo. Having initially teamed up for a single release, “How Could You,” taken from the soundtrack to the Damon Wayans and Adam Sandler starring movie vehicle, Bulletproof, it actually wasn’t until their high profile appearance on the late, great 2Pac’s number one Billboard Hot 100 smash, “How Do U Want It,” the third single from the, then, newly signed Death Row Records rapper’s All Eyez on Me double LP in June 1996, that the duo actually envisioned a career away from Jodeci. K-Ci & JoJo Hailey would go on to unleash five studio albums, racking up a plethora of hits; “You Bring Me Up,” “Last Night’s Letter,” “All My Life,” written by JoJo – who has since become a phenomenal writer – for his daughter Kayla Tiffany, “Don’t Rush (Take Love Slowly),” “Life,” “Tell Me It’s Real,” “Fee Fie Foe Fum,” “Girl,” “Crazy,” “Wanna Do You Right,” “It’s Me,” “This Very Moment” and “Knock It Off,” of their very own. They would also log in more stellar cameos for the likes of such artists as; Tupac Shakur / Makaveli [“Toss It Up”], Gang Starr [“Royalty”], E-40 [“From the Ground Up”] and TWENTY88 [“2 Minute Warning”].
As it’s already been written, all good things must come to an end… and that’s exactly what happened in the case of K-Ci & JoJo as well. Their pitfalls; vast change in musical climate, declining sales, label changes, and even more vital, their struggles with addiction in the form of alcoholism, of showbiz was largely documented in their one-season produced TV One reality series, ‘Come Clean‘.
JoJo Hailey, who is also kin to fellow vocalists Stephanie Mills, Dave Hollister, Calvin Richardson, Fantasia and Ricco Barrino, has been sober for years now and in that clarity has gained an altogether different perspective, and, not to mention very well deserved, brand new lease on life.
We caught up with JoJo Hailey to talk about all the success and what’s to come from the singer, including a recently released new single. Check out our full interview here…
Parlé Mag: Last month – fittingly on Valentine’s Day to be exact – saw the unveiling of your premiere solo entry, “Special,” and its accompanying video clip — Tell me about this particular composition?
JoJo Hailey: I was in the studio, heard the track (and) started humming to it. I put the words together, and it became something “Special.”
Parlé Mag: “Special” comes courtesy of your exceedingly overdue, still forthcoming, debut studio collection, JoJo Family & Friends — What specific details can you reveal about the upcoming project at this particular point in time?
JoJo Hailey: I’ve already revealed Snoop on the remix of “Special.” The rest I’m gonna keep on lock, but I will say that you definitely won’t be disappointed.
Parlé Mag: How then does this new solo project either differ or compare to what you are already both known and loved for as 1/4 of Jodeci and 1/2 of K-Ci & JoJo?
JoJo Hailey: Well it’s 100% JoJo, if that makes a difference… but I’m still giving my signature harmonies, and talking about Love.
Parlé Mag: After nearly twenty long years, Jodeci finally returned in March 2015 with the group’s fourth LP The Past, the Present, the Future — Looking back, were you happy or even content with that project’s performance? It certainly seemed like a whole lot more should’ve materialized from that reunion…
JoJo Hailey: I wasn’t really happy with it, because we didn’t get as involved as we could have been due to certain business circumstances. I agree, more could’ve materialized.
Parlé Mag: What have you been up to, both personally and professionally speaking, over the the past five years?
JoJo Hailey: Personally I’ve been chilling, connecting with myself more spiritually one day at a time. Professionally, I have been working on building my label, JT Entertainment [jointly owned by Hailey and his wife of twelve years, Tashaunda affectionately known as “Tiny”], recording new music, just trying to stay productive.
[Ed. Note: JT Entertainment is also home to two of the couple’s daughters, the aforementioned Kayla Tiffany and Sakoya Wynter, as well as a nephew, Devin Hailey, son of older brother K-Ci]
Parlé Mag: Switching gears here, how has not only the industry itself, but even more-so you as an individual, either changed and / or evolved since your whole inception into music?
JoJo Hailey: The industry has made it easier for more people to put out music with all the digital stuff. I’m adjusting and just paying more attention to my business, you know, and taking control of my legacy.
Parlé Mag: Longevity, what do you attribute yours to?
JoJo Hailey: God’s Blessings, and the Love I have for music.
Parlé Mag: What do you want people to get from your new music?
JoJo Hailey: Love and Happiness.
Parlé Mag: As a songwriter, where do you actually draw that inspiration from?
People, Places and Things.
Parlé Mag: Please explain your overall creative process…
JoJo Hailey: I can’t, it’s just part of the magic and the gift that God has given me.
Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of R&B? And, even more specifically, where exactly do you “fit in” when it comes to today’s trending sound-scape?
JoJo Hailey: Not going to say that I’m not happy, but It’s definitely different. I don’t fit in because I’m considered old school! JoJo guffaws I’m just gonna keep making the music that promotes LOVE.
Parlé Mag: What has been your greatest career achievement(s), at least thus far anyway?
JoJo Hailey: Just being able to deliver music that has lasted decades.
Parlé Mag: What’s an average day like for you?
JoJo Hailey: Average day can be hectic, and some days quiet.
Parlé Mag: Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans…
JoJo Hailey: I love them, and I call them FRIENDS.
Parlé Mag: What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? And, why?
JoJo Hailey: Creating is my favorite. I don’t have a least favorite. I’m blessed to be where I am, so I embrace it all.
Parlé Mag: What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
JoJo Hailey: Just be yourself!
Parlé Mag: With both you and your brother, K-Ci, focused on solo endeavors, what does this say for the future of Jodeci?
JoJo Hailey: It doesn’t say anything. Everything happens in God’s timing, so we will all just have to wait and see.
Parlé Mag: Lastly, what’s next for JoJo Hailey?
JoJo Hailey: More music, and putting time aside to focus on The Joel Hailey Leadership Academy; a non-profit organization that will provide students, ages 10 (through) 19, coaching in artistic development.
Parlé Mag: Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers
JoJo Hailey: Thank you all for your continued support.
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