COCO JONES ON R&B, FAITH AND DESTINY MOMENTS
In the world of contemporary R&B, a name that has been turning heads in all corners is the phenomenally talented Coco Jones. Possessing soulful vocals reminiscent of R&B legends, and a captivating aura, I had the incredible opportunity to talk recently with the rising star for an intimate conversation that unveiled the layers of her musical journey, her remarkable upbringing, and the authentic nature that defines her both as an artist and as a person.
Having begun her career at the tender age of 12, Jones quickly became a household name with standout performances on Radio Disney, captivating audiences with her awe-inspiring vocal range, and presence beyond her years. Synonymous with her starring role as Roxie in Disney Channel’s original movie “Let It Shine”, both her singing and acting talents have been on display for the better part of a decade. And yet, where many have allowed fame and recognition to inflate their ego, Coco Jones remains as grounded as ever, embodying a strong sense of humility installed in a close-knit, but high-achieving family.
Following a string of successful singles and EPs, the debut album “What I Didn’t Tell You” arrived in January of this year to a No.6 spot on the charts and platinum accreditation for lead single “ICU“, which later received the remix treatment from none other than Justin Timberlake. The album is a sonic exploration of love, heartbreak, and self-discovery, that has been met with widespread acclaim from both fans and critics. A vulnerable, honest songwriter who magnetically delivers contemporary melodies with the aplomb of any of R&B’s revered vocalists, the album is a companion to those with dreams of love and success.
Coco Jones’ authenticity shines through in her music and extends to her personality. Throughout our conversation, I was struck by her warmth and genuine nature. And while her demeanor is gentle, it should in no way be confused for being weak. She is unapologetically assured in herself, in her talents, and in the manner in which she is navigating a notoriously high-pressure industry. Her music is a direct reflection of her character, she’s not afraid to tackle topics that matter to her – either in conversation or on record. In an era when many artists conform to popular trends, Coco Jones is a refreshing exception, proving that real artistry, and longevity, lie in staying true to oneself.
During our conversation, she opened up about the challenges she’s faced not only in the music industry, but in life, and how they’ve shaped her as an artist. Her journey hasn’t been without its hurdles, but it’s precisely these challenges that have molded her into the artist she is today. She’s a firm believer in the power of faith, of persistence, and of gratitude. It’s clear that Coco Jones loves doing what she’s doing. And so do we.
Matthew Craig: The one and only Coco Jones! Thanks for your time today.
Coco Jones: Hi, thank you for having me.
Great to have you. I know it’s evening over there in the states. It’s morning here in Australia. I like to start my day with gratitude. What are you grateful for today?
I’m grateful for a team that keeps me productive. I think the days that are really long, I get tired. But I have to remind myself that this is what I wanted. I wanted people around me who can put me in the right rooms even if that means I don’t see my own apartment room for weeks on end.
How do you juggle it all? You do so much; you’re touring, you’re at award shows, you’re in the studio. How do you find time to juggle it all? Is it routine or how do you how do you manage that?
I wish it was a routine. I really prefer routine. But because music is so fluid, it can be anything at any time, there is no routine. It’s really just what’s on the calendar that day. And maybe the priority is something more tour-related. Because I’m on tour, maybe it’s studio is the priority, but whatever is the priority at that time. Everything else just flows around it.
Just a 24/7 industry. Do you find time for downtime?
Um, I do have downtime. It’s very random and last minute, so I just be like, are any of my friends free right now, what y’all doing right now? Literally right now.
What does that look like? What do you like to get up to away from from the screen, or the studio, or the stage?
I like to chill, eat good food, watch TV. I might want to go to the club, might go dance just because sometimes I just want to be dancing. Yeah. But for the most part, it’s probably something chill and relaxing.
You first shot to this when you were only a kid yourself. So this has been a pretty constant grind for you, you don’t really know anything else. How was that? At such a young age shoved onto the big screen? You’ve got a father who’s a footballer, a mother who’s a singer as well. What was that dynamic like while still finding your identity at that early stage?
Well, for me, I was really competitive as a kid. And I have this work mentality. If it wasn’t going to be music, and acting, it was going to be sports, I just wanted to do something and immerse myself in it. So it just happened to become music and film. And I didn’t know anything different than go go go be the best, dedicate yourself to this craft. It was just all I was raised on.
Did that come from being part of a high-achieving family?
Absolutely. My dad played professional football. Such a small percentage of athletes really make it to those big leagues. So you have to have this drive. And my mother was from a family of entrepreneurs. So definitely the parents that I had instilled this work mindset in me.
Did that feel like pressure or support?
Support. I mean, I was the happiest kid, I felt like I was living in my dreams. So to me, I wouldn’t even notice the hours going by. And I was grateful to have parents who would take me to auditions because I wanted to go. I wanted to keep trying. I wanted more opportunities.
That’s cool. If you look back and talk to Coco, who is 11 or 12 years old in a room now, what would you say to her?
I would say you’re a little naive. Not everything is gonna be handed to you just because you work hard and you sing with everything. And surprisingly, that’s not enough. So what you need to do is not let this world of music and entertainment put value on you, you’re great. People will get it when they get it, just keep going and don’t care about the time. The time will drive you crazy.
Yeah, that’s great. Where does that sense of identity come from? I know your faith and strong values. How do you, in a chaotic industry where there’s so much value on tangible stuff, how do you find those intangibles to build your identity around?
I do really centre my identity and my faith. I feel like God was the only one there when everyone, I felt didn’t understand how uncomfortable it was to pursue this. But I couldn’t walk away so they just didn’t get it. I felt like it was really me and God and it taught me to base my identity in something more stable than this world.
I feel with your your art and your music, it’s very vulnerable. It’s very honest storytelling. Did you use music as a form of therapy or diarising? What’s your relationship with music itself, and in the art of creating?
I think my relationship with music got way more intimate after I was dropped from my first label deal, because I looked at it like another character. This is the character of singing, now you sing the songs that people gave to you, and you perform those the best you can. But really, I think it was artists like SZA and Bryson and PartyNextDoor who made me feel like, wow, they’re really talking about the real life that’s not out of character. That’s them. They’re saying themselves. And so I had to figure out who I am so that I can be myself and not play a role when I’m in the studio. Really take it from my own personal experiences, and not be afraid to tell my truth.
What are some of those things you’ve learned about yourself? Who is Coco?
Well, I’m a lot of different things. I’m definitely goofy girl next door relatable. But I’m also a boss, I also really do understand the power of No. I still have a lot to learn. But I still don’t care. Like I’m down to learn. I feel like, I don’t know everything. I may not even know anything. So somebody teach me. I think I’m constantly evolving. But I just I feel like a regular girl who loves irregular things. And so that’s what I’m gonna get. That’s what I’m going to pursue.
What are some of those challenges? That you encounter as you go through that journey?
I think the main challenge is time and comparison. Because I feel like it’s been such a long part of my life. This is really all I know. So sometimes before now, I’d be just like; what is the deal with people not getting it? But you know, it takes a lot for the right opportunity to come your way. It takes a lot of consistency and a lot of delusion. Like, okay, I don’t care it’s gonna happen. But you really have no proof or evidence and no concrete facts. There’s no formula here. You just got to be a little delusional. That’s a challenge, though.
Let me talk to that point, actually, about delusion. This interview came about because I tweeted a few months ago, after seeing that video of you at Broccoli Fest and was like, Yo, I want to Coco Jones interview really bad. And then the universe did it thing and here we are today, which is incredible. So is manifestation something powerful to you? That art of delusion, about believing that I can achieve no matter how ridiculous it may seem.
There’s this Bible verse, and it’s like life and death is in the power of your tongue. And I’ve held on to that verse for literally ever, I feel like your words are so powerful. And so I do believe that you can speak things into existence. With not just consistent repetition; but of course words and I feel it has to align with God’s purpose for you. I’m not going to tell people that I’m going to be a zoologist. What a waste of everyone’s time because it doesn’t even align with my purpose. You got to find your purpose. And then you just got to be bold.
Speaking of sort of God-ordained moments, can you just take me and describe that moment singing in the rain of Broccoli? It’s one of the most incredible videos we’re seeing go viral in the last sort of 6 to 12 months. We’ve seen the reaction to it, just place us where your mind was in that moment, because it seems so surreal watching it on.
It was so spiritual to me. I just was like, so happy. Because I didn’t care about what the audience thought. I didn’t care about my hair. I didn’t care about my outfit. I was just like, I’m doing what I love. And I’m doing it. I’m doing it through everything. It just, it felt like my journey. I will keep going through everything. Just because I love this you. So yeah, it was really spiritual.
Is onstage the moment you feel most alive? For some it’s in the studio for some it’s turning up meeting fans, for others on stage. What part of the process do you feel most alive in?
I think onstage is probably the most energetic I feel. In the studio I feel the most creative, and like in tune, but demanding the attention of a crowd. And being that point of focus for so many people is very energetic. Probably the most lively.
Incredible. You mentioned some of the other R&B artists that you’ve listened to, or been inspired by but absolutely R&B is going through a renaissance right now. And you’re at the forefront of that. Give us a bit of an insight into your take on this wave of R&B and this golden age that is occurring right now, and how it feels to be a part of that.
I mean, I look at R&B Like it’s always been. It’s always been such the forefront of my life. When people tell me that R&B is not alive, I’m like – well, where did it go? That’s literally all I know. It’s just my world. And I just want to make people fall in love with how I feel in the song. There are so many songs that are completely different genres that I just feel it so badly, so I don’t really worry about the genre. I just worry about the way it connects to people.
Can you talk to me about the recent Brent Faiyaz collab. I had the pleasure of sitting down with him a few years ago. And he’s a phenomenally talented artist. That song has just been on repeat for everyone out here. How did that come about?
Me and Brent are really cool. Like, he would just ask me to pull up to the studio. And me and my friends would come. Then the other day, he was like, I have a song for you. And it just felt right. I loved it. I went in the studio. We just wrote a verse in like a couple hours. And I was like, Yeah, cool. Let’s go out. It’s a really dope song. It just feels great.
I want to talk a little bit about mission and purpose because as I said, you’re you’re very driven. You’re very outspoken on issues you’re passionate about. What does that future look like for Coco Jones? What’s the lasting impact outside of just art?
I think outside of art, I just want to be a representation for black women, for a different option of how to pursue this. I want to instill self-confidence and to educate black women on therapy and mental health and self-love and not letting this world deter who you are and your potential. I want to mentor in a way. I’m an older sister, so I feel like I always have that older sibling mindset in my mind. I want to be able to bring women who look like me and help them elevate.
Powerful. Amen to that. You’ve got a massive fan base of Coco Jones fans out here in Australia. Do you have a message for the people of Australia? Can we see you out here soon?
Australia, I’m definitely going to find my way over there. I’m a little scared because I heard y’all got some crazy bugs and stuff. But I’m from the country. I think I’ll be able to handle it. But I appreciate your support. And I will see you guys very soon.
Thanks for your time today. It’s been great to be able to chat with you and definitely look forward to connecting when you do make it out to Australia.
Yes, thank you so much. Thank you.