It would be hard to find another teen with the poise, chops and fiery self-confidence of Coco Jones. The 16-year-old singer admits she never lets hurdles impede her drive to success – and at 5’ 9”, she’d just jump over them anyway. With her debut EP, “Made Of,” she shows the world what her growing fan base already knows: Coco Jones is a spectacular talent of limitless potential.
Sound like hype? Consider: At age 9, Coco rocked the National Anthem before 40,000 Rams fans at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. A video of that performance went viral, caught the eye of Disney scouts, and in 2010,Coco emerged as a finalist on the Disney Channel’s “Next Big Thing.” Last year, she starred in the film, “Let It Shine,” which became the Disney Channel’s #1 original film of the year, racking up more than 5.7 million viewers.
Now, the video for “Holla at the DJ,” the EP’s debut single, has surpassed 1.3 million views on YouTube, and that was before the release of “Made Of.” There’s something happening here, and her name is Coco Jones. “I describe my songs as a personal journal,” says the Tennessee native. “I like to write about relatable female empowerment.”
That spirit comes through on “Made Of.” Working with songwriter-producers such as XX and XX, Coco co-wrote all four songs, including the single, a brazen rap-R&B hybrid based on a true-life experience. “I would describe it as a very energetic, clubby song,”Coco notes. “When I first had the idea, I was at a teen club and I had to tell the DJ over and over to play a certain song. I actually had to holla at DJ.”
Blending straight-up dance with Adele-like harmonies, “World is Dancing” celebrates being young and free, while the uptempo ballad “Déjà Vu” shows off Coco’s amazing range. The title track, “Made Of,” rounds out the EP with melodic flare and astounding layered harmonies (all overdubbed by Coco) that recall a young Beyoncé. “It reminds me of a sleepover,” Coco says of the song. “It’s so fun and girly.”
Born in South Carolina and raised in Tennessee, Coco Jones is the daughter of former Tennessee Titans defensive end Mike Jones and professional singer Javonda Jones. The couple stepped their three children on the great music of the past, and Coco (born Courtney) cites giants such as Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Roberta Flack as chief influences.
“The first time I sang, it was Aretha’s ‘Chain of Fools,’” Coco recalls. “My mom said I was singing harmony even when I was a baby. It just came naturally.”
Coco credits her parents not only with providing a loving home, but also with the unconditional support she needed to pursue her dreams. After that big break singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” things moved quickly for Coco. She performed on a Most Talented Kids segment of “The Maury Povich Show” in 2009, and made her Radio Disney debut in 2010 with her “Next Big Thing” run.
That opened the door to a recurring guest role on the Disney Channel’s “So Random” as well as her stunning star turn on “Let It Shine,” a contemporary hip-hop version of the classic novel, “Cyrano de Bergerac.”
“On ‘Next Big Thing’ I learned how to perform and what fans enjoy,” Coco says. “It was my first time doing something so huge on Disney. ‘Let It Shine’ was also great. I remember being so excited every day on the set. There was never a time I wasn't pumped up.”
The accolades began pouring in. Coco performed at the 2012 NAACP Awards nominees’ luncheon, and was recently named one of Essence.com’s "35 Under 35: Young, Black, and Amazing," which placed her alongside the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and Beyoncé.
“Made Of” is just the beginning, as Coco turns her attention to her debut full-length album, which should drop this summer. She’s not waiting until then to make things happen. Her YouTube channel has millions of fans, and this spring and early summer she will perform as much as she can between recording dates.
Somehow with it all, she manages to be just a regular teenager from Nashville. “I am a normal girl,” she says, but adds that her success forced her “to grow up and be mature.”
She’s handled it remarkably well, which may surprise many, but not Coco. “Everyone expects make to be shocked this is happening,” she says. “But if I have a goal I won’t stop until I reach it, and when it does, I think, ‘All right, got it.’ I’ve been working on this since I was 9. I‘m ready.”
And that’s what Coco Jones is made of.