ESSENCE.com's "New and Next" column spotlights the brightest new talents we think you should know. This week we meet singer, star of Disney's Let It Shine film and ESSENCE Music Festival performer, Coco Jones.
Who is Coco Jones? Courtney is my name when I’m at home. Whenever I’m in Tennessee, I still have to wash the dishes and make my bed every morning, but CoCo Jones? She’s a rock star, she doesn’t have to do all that. I got started singing the national anthem at 9 years old at a Rams game, my father is former NFL player Mike Jones, and my mom put the video on YouTube, just like any other video. She didn’t think anything about it but then the video got one million hits and some of viewers worked at the Disney Channel and Radio Disney. They asked me if I wanted to be a part of N.B.T (Next Big Thing), a talent competition where you can showcase your songs if you’re an up-and-coming artist that no one knows yet. Then I started doing guest roles on Disney shows like Good Luck Charlie and So Random! and now I've been cast in Let It Shine.
Who she sounds like: I’m sort of like a Beyoncé mixed with Jennifer Hudson and Nicki Minaj because I rap and I’ve been told that I sing pretty good. (laughs) I want to sing songs, like Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love,” that just make you want to get up and dance and are definitely no. 1 no matter what.
Where you'll see her next: Preparing to perform at the ESSENCE Music Festival is really nerve-racking. I rarely ever get nervous about a concert but I know that ESSENCE Music Festival is so huge. I’ve never done a concert this big before but I know it’s going to be great. I’m going to have my dancers and everyone’s going to hear some of my new songs. When I was younger I released a really, really independent album that was mainly for my family and friends. Now I’m signed to Hollywood records and I will have a real album coming out next Spring hopefully, we’re working on releasing some singles in September.
In Let It Shine, my character’s name is Roxy and she’s this bigger-than-life pop star but no one knows that she’s really an insecure, people pleaser. She does whatever her manager asks, she wears and sings what she’s told and she has no say in her own career. When she goes back to her hometown of Atlanta to host a rap competition and she finds herself and realizes that if she just sticks to being herself, everything will work out. Sometimes [playing a lead role like Roxy] can be overwhelming, but this is my dream come true so it’s not overwhelming for me. I just try to have fun with what I do and make sure I don’t stress. I just have fun at my job.
Let It Shine premieres on June 15 at 8 p.m. EST on the Disney Channel.