JoJo Rocks: rapping to end child poverty


“You can make a difference, I know it’s true
You can change the world – it all starts with you!”

                                           – JoJo Rock; ‘Amazing Grace’

JoJo singing carolsMany people have inspirational qualities but some simply are ‘an inspiration’: a living reminder of what it means to be challenged out of our preconceptions and propelled out of our apathy. JoJo is one such inspiration.

The Foundations for Success

JoJo rapping to end child povertyWhen he was only seven years old, JoJo from Sydney, Australia, started rapping to raise money for children living in extreme poverty. Almost four years later, the adventure continues and JoJo not only raises money himself but spends much of his time encouraging others to do the same.
Toby Mac was JoJo’s earliest influence along with groups such as the Krosswerdz who he was able to work with in person. JoJo says:
“They helped me develop a passion for rapping and gave me lots of opportunities to perform live and learn to freestyle. From Krosswerdz I met a mentor called The Profit . The Profit taught me a lot about performing and writing rap and helped me write Amazing Grace.
I also listen to a US rapper called Sevin and have toured with him in Australia. He has also had a big influence on my musical style.”

The Music

I asked JoJo how he would describe his music and he answered:
“I try to write songs that are inspirational, talk about my faith in Jesus and can be listened to by people of all ages.
My songs are recorded in my garage but Amazing Grace was recorded in a full studio with over 10 musicians. That was a big production.”
It was Amazing Grace that first caught my attention, with JoJo’s heartfelt rapping combined with the wonderful African vocals of The Sowers. The International Christmas Child team agreed early on that this song would open the charity album as it so perfectly encapsulated the sentiments of the project. Furthermore, it should be acknowledged – at the risk of embarrassing JoJo! – that he was the primary inspiration for the album. The concept of children helping children was very powerful and continues to challenge and inspire people.



Check out JoJo’s Music Video ‘Amazing Grace’

JoJo performing
JoJo’s most recent song and music video ‘Reach for the Stars’ was the theme song for his ‘make a difference’ tour and it encourages people not to give up on their attempts to help others. Like much of JoJo’s songs, it has some very profound lyrics:
“If you reach for the stars and you bring back the moon
Then you’re almost there, so don’t give up”
In a world where so much is measured by success and failure, I believe this is an important message for would be philanthropists to take on board. I think we are often afraid to ‘reach for the stars’ in our aspirations because we are afraid that we might never reach them and will be deemed – by others or by ourselves – to be a failure. JoJo’s point is that even if you don’t reach your goal, the act of trying can make all the difference:
“Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day
And you just might only make it halfway
But the change you make just might save the day
For someone in need so don’t back away”



 Watch JoJo’s inspirational music video, ‘Reach for the Stars’:

Fighting Giants

JoJo chilling

“The last few years I have had problems with two boys at school. Some would describe them as bully’s. It has made my life very difficult and I have started to enjoy school less and less.  I am being coached by my parents on how to deal with these difficult people but it is a journey. I am working on dealing with difficult people in my life and how to become stronger and more resilient. I believe I will overcome these issues with time and will be stronger through the journey. 

I have just written a new song called GIANT. I have not recorded it yet. It is about overcoming the giants in your life. The song is based on the story of David and Goliath and is based on my experience trying to overcome my giants. Everyone has a different giant they have to overcome. For some it is poverty, health problems, learning difficulties, racism and at the moment mine are bullies. I believe we can all overcome our giants just like David defeated Goliath.”

JoJo’s story touched me deeply as I know too well what it is to suffer prolonged bullying at a young age. The tragedy is that of the many incredible, talented young people I have either worked with or interviewed, a huge amount have to put up with this kind of harassment, usually from other children but often from adults too. In the case of boys, my experience shows that almost all will experience bullying of the kind that JoJo describes. There are various reasons for this, but that is another article! For now, suffice to say that boys like JoJo are on the front line in the struggle against bullying of many kinds, but we can help. Please don’t underestimate the effect that a positive comment or unconditional compliment can have for someone in JoJo’s position. Negative comments and insults are very strong and often need three of four positive comments to counter them. 
I know most of you reading this will think that what JoJo is doing is simply amazing – so tell him! Send him an encouragement; regularly remind him that he is in your thoughts or prayers; tell him that you are 100% behind him as he fights his giants. You can comment on JoJo’s videos or get in touch through his social media:

The Journey Continues

JoJo 2014JoJo told me where he draws his inspiration from:
“My sponsored child Charles in Uganda is what has inspired me in the past to write, record and perform my music. I have been encouraged by many people in my life including my parents, the rappers at Krosswerdz and many other musicians, teachers and friends. Also the people who follow me on social media and write comments of support on my Youtube and Facebook pages have inspired me to keep going.”
I asked JoJo if he had dreams or aspirations for the future and what advice he would give to other young people trying to achieve their dreams:

“I have spent some time speaking to school students over the years and I would like to do a lot more this type of thing. I also would like to be a doctor and a lego designer, so I could be a children’s doctor who cheers the sick kids up with my lego designs. That would be cool.

If you want to achieve your musical dreams, then you need to work very hard and never give up. I remember travelling for hours to a venue to perform for 5 people when I was 8 years old. Some would say that was a waste, but these events taught me how to perform and I did my best. I have now performed to very large crowds and have done very well because I practiced with the small crowds. The bible says in Matthew 25:23:”
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
 JoJo would like to thank the people who have helped him most on his musical journey:
  • Titus MacLaren – Titus directed and edited the music videos BIG and Reach for the stars
  • Raj Dhatt – Raj directed and edited the music video Amazing Grace and Oh Holy Night
  • Brenton Smith – Brenton worked on all the videos and was an amazing support
  • Angus Steventon – Angus wrote and produced the music for Oh Holy night and Amazing Grace
Everyone helped JoJo for free because they believed in the cause.
Make sure you support JoJo by subscribing to his social media and buying his music. You can find links to this on his Official website:
Also, you can donate to Charles, JoJo’s sponsored child in Uganda:
I leave you with some final lyrics from ‘Reach for the Stars’:
JoJo, Ozzi rapping to end child poverty“And let’s pretend that this story’s true
That what I just said, we can surely do
If we reach for the stars but don’t get through
We’re still changing a life if we’re touchin the moon”

Esteban and Diego – French Flamenco cousins!

Every now and then there comes a musical act that slowly draws you in until you find yourself hooked. Even more rarely, comes an act like the French duo “Esteban and Diego” that grabs you by both hands and starts dancing the passo doblo with you! 

“It feels like we were designed to play together so it explodes on stage!” – Esteban

 I first encountered Esteban and Diego when looking for musical contributions to the International Christmas Child charity album. If I were to summarise these boys in one word it would have to be ‘energy’. All the exuberant, cheeky, humour so characteristic of young boys, but also the energy apparent in their dedication to their music and in their commitment to each other.

The Story Begins 

Esteban and Diego’s mothers are sisters and as close as sisters can be, so it was natural that the young cousins began playing together from an early age.

Esteban y Diego - friendsDuring a New Year celebration, the family discovered with amazement that Esteban had an incredible talent for singing. Diego was already a gifted guitarist and, since they were inseparable, the duo was born! 

“I started taking lessons at age 9, and a year later, Esteban started learning. Because our mothers are so close, we are always together. So it is natural that we started playing together.” Diego

They take guitar lessons from Manu who is a guitar teacher of the association “El Hogar de los Españoles” in La Plaine Saint Denis, near Paris. Hence, you will hear a distinctly Spanish, Flamenco flavour to their music and may see them referred to either as “Esteban y Diego” (Spanish) or “Esteban et Diego” (French) or indeed, since I am writing in English, I will refer to them as “Esteban and Diego” to avoid confusion!

2011-10-12 Ils font l'ouverture d'un festival en direct sur une grande radio françaiseA Duo is Born

In December 2009, they played for the first time as “Esteban and Diego” to an association for the mayor of the 19th in Paris. Soon after, they were performing various concerts in Paris and its suburbs.

October 12, 2011, they opened the French live music festival “Cities of World Music.” On 09 November 2011, they performed on the show “France has got Talent”. Performance requests began pouring in from all over France and the young musicians continued to grow their fan base at home and abroad. 

The Journey continues…

Following their TV appearances, they were noticed by Marie Jo Audouard of the production company “Be my sound: Hope records.” Soon Esteban and Diego had released their first single “Cuando Bailas” which was composed and performed by the boys. The track is available for download on several internet platforms (Deezer, Amazon etc …). 

Cuando BailasRémi Castillo – radio host, journalist and producer – also has a heart for this little duo. After hearing their single “Cuando Bailas” he decided to delight the boys by helping them make a music video for their song. Today, Rémi Castillo guides them and helps them grow. In May 2013, he released a book “The Epic of Young Talents” in which he speaks of them. 

Esteban and Diego have since had numerous TV appearances including “The Voice kids” in September 2014 and a program called “Gulli” in October 2014.

An incredible story of loyalty

“We know each other so well. We share everything together, in private as well as on stage. We cannot imagine our music without each other.” – Diego

You Raise Me UpAs well as being incredibly talented and entertaining, Esteban and Diego have a special quality which sets them apart from many other groups of their age: they are completely committed to each other. This is not difficult while success remains limited and neither party has much to lose, but for the friendship to survive at the dizzying heights that Esteban and Diego have reached proves that the bond they share is very powerful. 

“Diego is like my big brother. Sometimes we fight a bit, but in the music we are always united.” – Esteban

I know the boys and their families will not mind me sharing a fairly personal story of when this loyalty was truly put to the test. 

2012-01-00 Britain's got talentEsteban and Diego travelled to England to audition for “Britain’s Got Talent” a few years ago. This was before their numerous television appearances so, no doubt, it was a big deal for them. The producers liked what they saw and heard. A lot. But there was one condition: Esteban and Diego would have to separate as the producers were not interested in promoting a duo.

The boys made their decision quickly and unanimously. They picked up their guitars and went home to France! They were “Esteban and Diego” not “Esteban or Diego”!

It is such a delight to see the success the boys are enjoying now. Not only in France but, increasingly, all over the world. It is an honour to be able to feature them here and wish them every success for an exciting future, fuelled by the energy that only Esteban and Diego can give!

“When we began to see that people liked what we were doing, we were amazed. Even today we are surprised every time people take notice of us.” – Esteban

Happy Cousins

“We do not know where this will lead us – we thought it would stop after our first TV appearance – but it’s been more than 3 years and the adventure continues! Thank you to all those who make it possible.” – Diego

Stay up to date with all their news and find links to all their social media on their website: