Rule Number #1
The right connections make all the difference. Jo states, “That’s the most valuable lesson about L.A. You can have the most amazing talent. If you are not with aligned with the right people, it’s not going to work. Everything is relationships. If you think I’m not somebody, cool. I respect everyone’s gift. My mother always told me, I don’t care who it is, always respect them, you never know down the line, what’s going to happen. Some of these guys that were interns are now running these companies. The way you treat them, they never forget.”
In L.A, you never know who is who. “That’s the scary thing. You gotta be careful about who you align yourself with. A lot of people don’t know who they say they know. They’re trying to find their way in like you’re trying to find your way in.” Fortunately, Jo had a solid team of people in-the-know.
Here Comes Success
Jo’s worked with Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, production Jordin Sparks, and Rodney Jerkins. He executive produced LeToya Luckett’s new album, and single, “Back to Life.” Producer, Harmony Samuels gave Jo one of his biggest breaks. “He brought me in to vocal produce with Ariana Grande. He gave me the experience of a lifetime. I worked on her first and second album. When you’re multi-talented, you’ve got options. I’m a producer but there are so many avenues to make money in this industry. My mentor told me: You may not get the producer, but you can vocal produce, engineer, arrange vocals. Use all of those things to make your way in.
I believe Ariana Grande will go off and be one of the greatest artists of our time. I get to say that I was part of something that now has wings and you see that it’s flying. You can’t take that from me and I got to make money doing it, good money.”
Yes, Jo moved to L.A. years ago, but you might not know it because he commutes to KC weekly. Who would take the time to fly back to KC every week?! Now That’s love. “Jason Betts asked me to come in and host Poetic Notes. I said I’m with it. Anything to showcase KC talent.” Poetic Notes recently concluded with Betts move to LA, but was a weekly open mic and a great place to nurture the talent. Jo even has celebrities appear occasionally like Arian Davis from Love & Hip-Hop perform.
Jo professes that one thing KC does well is help you develop your craft. A lot of people that come to L.A. come for the glitz and glamour but without the talent. KC comes ready. However, where the talent is plentiful, artists still have challenges to overcome.
But Jo has some advice for KC artists. “Too many artists feel they have to be on top to the detriment of other artists. “We’ve got to get out of that mentality. Music is a billion-dollar export. When people get to L.A. they realize I don’t have to be like that. They don’t feel like there’s enough room, but there’s enough room for everybody.”
KC Jazz & Heritage Festival
Jo continues to find new ways to give back and to support KC. This summer, he was one of the music producers of KC’s newest fest, the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival, Memorial Day weekend. Beyond jazz, Jo helped bring artists such as Brandy, Lala Hathaway, Yazz (Hakeem Lyon from Empire), Serayah McNeill (Tiana Brown on Empire), as well as our own KC talent like The Truth Band and Lee (Langston) just to show how strong KC can bring it. “It was as good to see them (KC artists) on the stage as anyone else,” he said.
It’s Sunday morning, back in L.A. Jo prepares for another studio session with artist, Serayah. Working on music he hopes will live for a lifetime. In the end, he has simple goals. “I don’t want to be the man. I just want to take care of mom, my future wife, future kids, family…give back, buy some buildings and be happy.” Thank God for another day.