JOJO ABOT: The Brightest Black Star

JoJo Abot was never encouraged to sing. What she did get however was a flat rejection from her college choir master. He said she just didn’t have it. And yet here she was on stage at the Alliance Francaise in Accra, the headliner, leading a live band, with two back up dancers in front of an audience of over 200 people. No one there would believe that the journey to JoJo Abot’s ‘Black Star’ started under  two years ago. She came home to Ghana on holiday for her grandmother’s birthday. It was supposed to be a short trip but Jojo never left. Instead she jumped heart first into being a singer.

When Jojo decided that her three months vacation was going to be permanent, she felt that here in Ghana was where she would take singing seriously. The local musicians she met could translate the rhythms she heard in her head into sound. They played it so well that this inspired new material.  Armed and excited about her music she began to explore the possibility of singing in Accra. For a while she felt no one wanted to give her a chance. After all she didn’t have a manager. They didn’t know her. She was just another returnee woman trying to get on the mic.

“When I started out they didn’t want to let me play”, she explains. And those who would let her perform would want her to play for free. But making music isn’t cheap. Aside from the voice, you need to have the funds to put together a band and pay for a place to practice. Bass players cost money. Pianists cost money. Music costs money. Money that Jojo did not have to start off with but she didn’t give up. She kept knocking on doors and asking for a chance.

Eventually she got lucky. Jojo was introduced to Offie Kodjoe, a renowned and seasoned jazz talent in the music scene and Offie took Jojo under her wing. One night at Taverna Tropicana, a restaurant and live music venue, Offie dragged Jojo on stage. They performed together and this was Jojo’s first significant break.

Excerpt only. Read more in our current issue…

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