“You can make a difference, I know it’s true You can change the world – it all starts with you!” Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â – JoJo Rock; ‘Amazing Grace’ Â
Many 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
When he was only seven years old, JoJo fromÂ 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 wasÂ JoJo’s earliest influence along with groups such as the KrosswerdzÂ who he was able to work with in person.Â 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 ProfitÂ . 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 SevinÂ and have toured with him in Australia. He has also had a big influence on my musical style.”
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 ChildÂ 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 acknowledgedÂ – 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 VideoÂ ‘Amazing Grace’
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’tÂ reach your goal,Â the act of trying can make all the difference:
“Remember Rome wasnâ€™t built in a day And you just mightÂ only make it halfway But the change you make just might save the day For someone in need so donâ€™t back away”
Â Watch JoJo’s inspirational music video, ‘Reach for the Stars’:
“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.Â 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.Â
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.Â
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:
“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!’
Â 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 freeÂ becauseÂ 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: