After all that JoJo has been through with label disputes in the previous decade, she finally got the chance to release her third full-length album, Mad Love, last October. And almost as soon as 2017 began, the 26-year-old set out on her biggest tour yet, giving her the opportunity to perform those new songs around the world.

But on top of singing the material JoJo considers the most meaningful to her, the 70-date Mad Love Tour has allowed her to interact with thousands of fans old and new. More over, the tour has reminded her that it’s all about them at the end of the day.

“All this bulls–t about the industry and politics and stuff like that, that’s secondary to the importance of the connection [artists] have with our fans,” JoJo tells Billboard backstage before her May 4 show at New York City’s Irving Plaza. “It’s really amazing to be in these positions where I’m around the world, really deeply in America going to these different towns and cities.”

Below, see an edited transcript of JoJo’s discussion with Billboard in which she shared her takeaways from being back out on the road and why it’s the most gratifying experience she’s had in years.

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This [tour] brings me a gratification that I haven’t had in a long time, which is that shared experience of singing with the audience, these new songs that I’ve written and compiled that they’ve made a part of their lives. So it’s particularly special because I relate more to these songs, naturally, than I do to songs from when I was 12 years old. It’s great to move forward and I feel that momentum.

It’s the most meaningful tour for a variety of reasons. It’s 70 dates: I’ve never done a tour this extensive. To be able to have a majority of these dates sell out, even in towns that I’ve never been to before, and with not having a hit on the radio in years, just speaks to the passion that my supporters have shown me. I’m the most aware during this tour, so it’s meaningful because of the growth that I’ve gone through during it.

What’s particularly special with people who’ve been there with me from the beginning is that a lot of people have followed the journey. A lot of people haven’t — they’re just like, “Oh, JoJo, she’s still alive. Cool, we’ll go to the show and hear ‘Leave (Get Out).’” I want to draw them in further with the show. But the ones who’ve been there since the beginning, we literally grew up together. They kept me going, knowing that I wasn’t alone in this fight, and gave me the courage to keep going. So it’s very meaningful, but it’s deeper. It feels like we’re holding hands.

The most emotional moment on this tour was definitely in Boston. The rest of my family was there, and there’s this lyric in my song “Music,” the first song on Mad Love, where I say, “Went on the road to make my daddy proud/ But I lost him and so I sang to the crowd/ My only hope is that he’s looking down thinking/ ‘Oh my God, my daughter’s doing it now,’” and I couldn’t even look at my family who was up to the left, because I knew that they were going to be crying, which was going to make me cry even more. But when I felt that the audience was there with me — it’s just hard for me to not think of how much I miss my dad. I felt like they knew that, so I just lost it. I cannot cry on queue, crying is not part of my repertoire. But I wasn’t embarrassed, I felt comfortable, I felt like I was among friends and family.

I knew coming into the tour that I wanted this to be the best show that I put on yet in my career. I didn’t do a lot of touring as a teenage artist because my mom wanted me to focus on school, so I felt like this was my opportunity to get in my 10,000 hours — to start chipping away at that, and to become the performing live artist that I want to be and kind of develop myself in that way. I’m also practicing living in this moment and soaking it up, because it is such an interesting time for me and it feels really good.

Were my expectations met? I feel like I’ve learned a lot about balance and pacing, because with this schedule there’s a lot of, like, three nights in a row. And I’m doing an hour and fifteen [minutes] singing the entire show live, of course, and then there’s a meet-and-greet before the show with 50 people, and I do an acoustic song for them first. I realized how everything affects my voice — I’ve learned to truly live for my voice on the road, and every decision I make is around that. So, like I said, it was just a lesson in balance and pacing and shutting the f–k up.

I’m never satisfied with myself, and I’m never impressed by myself. But I’m really thankful and thrilled about the audience’s reaction, what I’ve seen on social media, and how people have felt leaving my show. That’s what I want — I want to leave an impression on you and I want you to feel good about yourself. And that’s what me and my band pray about before we go out on stage, is that people receive exactly what they wanted to receive, they leave feeling good about themselves, and that they experience what Mad Love is about: passion and giving it your all.

I’m going to continue to chip away at myself and continue to expand in becoming the musician I want to be. I want to be a multi-instrumentalist, and I want to be able to feel proficient on the keys out there. But I’m not going to put myself in that position until I’m ready. So no, I still haven’t measured up to what I want to be, but I’m on my way.

Posted by admin on May 10 • Interview

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