AEG Presents



Sun 3/5/17

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm (event ends at 12:00 am)

$20 ADV/$23 DOS

This event is all ages

JoJo is resilient. That’s the message that comes through loud and clear when you listen to Mad Love., her debut album with Atlantic Records and her first LP in ten years. She’s empowered. She’s in control. And she’s grown as hell. You can hear it in her Wiz Khalifa-assisted lead single, “Fuck Apologies.” It’s a powerful statement of intent that announces to the world that the singer-songwriter isn’t going to let anyone make her feel small. “As a woman, I find myself apologizing for things that I really don’t need to apologize for,” JoJo says. “Even as simple as when someone bumps into you.” She laughs. “Guess what? I’m not sorry you bumped into me. Overall, though, the song to me is an anthem of empowerment. It’s about being confident and comfortable enough with who you are to live unapologetically.” Themes of hard-won independence and strength are vividly realized on Mad Love., which swerves from slinky alt-R&B to exultant pop bangers and back again. It’s no surprise, given that JoJo, now 25, had a heavy hand in writing the entire album after first attempting to cut tracks penned by outsiders.

“I was starting to lose myself in the process of being sent songs,” she says. “But I stood up and remembered that I’m a songwriter, and I want to be heard.” Truly finding her voice was a journey that’s taken a lifetime. Born Joanna Levesque and raised in Massachusetts, she notched a #1 hit on the Billboard Pop Songs chart with her debut single, “Leave (Get Out),” when she was only 13; she was the youngest solo artist to have a #1 single in the U.S. She followed it up with a string of additional singles, most notably “Too Little Too Late,” another Top 3 smash, and the hit album The High Road in 2006. “Being a child star is a weird thing because your identity is put onto you,” she says. “As much of an individual as I was, I still had a lot of cooks in the kitchen telling me where to go and how to dress and what songs to record.” It didn’t help that she was trapped in a deal with a label that was defunct, which kept her from releasing music commercially. As the years passed, she earned a devoted following online releasing free mixtapes featuring tracks from top hitmakers like Boi-1da, Chad Hugo of the Neptunes and Da Internz. She collaborated, too, with the producer Noah “40” Shebib on her critically acclaimed single, “Demonstrate”, and had guest features on Timbaland’s Shock Value 2 and Pharrell Williams’ Grammy-nominated album G I R L. She was finally liberated from her contract in 2013 after 2 lawsuits and seven years of limbo and signed anew with Atlantic.
The whole story is almost unbelievable until you hear Stanaj sing. Before ever touting a proper single, the 22-year-old New York-born singer garnered glowing social media endorsements from Kim Kardashian West, Russell Simmons, Chris Brown, and NBA star Brandon Jennings among others. He also performed at Coachella prior to releasing any original music, sang on Dancing with the Stars, played Drake's piano at the YOLO Estate, and landed a record deal with LAVA/REPUBLIC.
"My family says I'm the luckiest person ever," he laughs. "Like Forrest Gump, I'm always in the right place at the right time. I've been on a hot streak lately, but my father always told me and my siblings growing up the harder you work somehow the luckier you will become!"
In actuality, luck has nothing to do with it. Born to Albanian immigrants and raised in the Big Apple, Stanaj started singing as soon as he could speak, and he hasn't stopped. By 8-years-old, he appeared in his first Albanian music video before going on to perform at festivals in Europe and the U.S. As a senior in high school, he tinkered with "Fall For Your Type" by Jamie Foxx and Drake on the family piano and made the switch to singing in English. Inspired by Maxwell, Justin Timberlake, and more, the budding artist spent nearly a year performing at every karaoke bar, lounge, and open mic that he could before coming to a realization: "My brother/manager Mark and I decided to drive to California and just figure it out in late December of 2014," he recalls. "We packed up our bags, hopped in our car, and drove west with no plan. When we got there, I sang everywhere. Since I wasn't 21 it was hard to get into a lot of these venues, so I would try to become friendly with owners/promoters/bartenders even sing for them outside of the bar or club in hopes of convincing them to just give me an opportunity to perform!"
Brandon Jennings caught one of those performances and uploaded a clip online. In the aftermath, Stanaj quickly gained 15,000 followers on Instagram. As his name spread, that number would approach 300K by only a year later. Soon, the likes of Complex were writing about him, and LAVA offered him a recording contract in early 2016. He'd jet across the pond with his other brother/manager David to work on new music in England with the likes of Fraser T. Smith [Adele, Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding], Michael Angelo [Sam Smith, Snoop Dogg], Two Inch Punch [Brian Eno, Jessie Ware], among others.
Now, Stanaj's singular sound adds an edge to pop soul punctuated by a delightful nod to nineties R&B. Songs like "Romantic" see his voice instantly seduce over stirring, sparse production.
Venue Information:
Slowdown - Main Room
729 North 14th Street
Omaha, NE, 68102-4702