Before Scooter Braun ever acquired Big Machine Records and Taylor Swift’s masters, and before Swift talked about rerecording her old music, JoJo went through it all herself. The “Too Little Too Late” singer-songwriter released a free mixtape amid a yearslong legal battle with her labels Blackground Records and Da Family, then filed a lawsuit against them before finally being released from her contract outside court. And last December, she reissued new recordings of her mid-aughts albums JoJo and The High Road on her Warner Records imprint Clover Music — proving that, yes, it can be done. Fresh off a Grammy nomination for her duet “Say So” with PJ Morton, JoJo was the surprise musical guest at last night’s Out100 party, where she told Vulture she thinks “Taylor Swift’s gonna be just fine” in her feud with Big Machine. “I sympathize with her plight, so whatever she decides to do, I think she should do,” JoJo said. “She has an amazing fan base, and yeah, it’s unfortunate, it sucks, so I understand. But she doesn’t need my advice.”
Accompanied by piano, JoJo performed three songs for honorees including playwright Jeremy O. Harris, activist Gavin Grimm, and performer T.S. Madison — opening with her new version of debut single “Leave (Get Out),” the song that rocketed her to the top of the Hot 100 at age 13. Rerecording her music “kind of changed the narrative,” she said. But she’s even more excited about her new music, with a forthcoming album of “hot shit.” “It’s R&B bops, it’s emotional, it’s just processing me being in my 20s and trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing,” JoJo, ever-so-relatable, said.
The focus of the night didn’t escape her, though, saying she felt “really humbled and like I need to do so much more” amid the activists and icons being honored. “The energy and consistent love that I have felt from [the queer] community means the world to me and has really kept me going in times when I was so discouraged,” she added. “We just have a special bond.” During her performance, she dedicated her last song, “I Am,” to trans women of color, in honor of Out’s “Trans Obituaries Project” honoring the lives of 22 trans women of color who died by violence in 2019. “The lyrics, I think, say it all,” she told the crowd. “It takes so much courage to be who you are — thank you for showing us how to do it.”