During a flight last November, Coco Jones experienced the best kind of turbulence: five Grammy nominations.
“I was asleep and my phone kept vibrating, and I thought it was the plane turbulence,” says Jones, ahead of the Sunday awards ceremony. Instead, it was a flood of congratulatory messages; the Grammy nominees had just been revealed. When her flight landed, she learned that she’d been nominated across multiple categories. “And that had me really shook to my core,” she adds.
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The singer-songwriter is up for Best New Artist, one of the marquee awards which will be unveiled during the live telecast. She’s also nominated in four R&B categories, including for her hit single “ICU” and Babyface’s “Simple,” on which she’s featured.
“I’d only done a debut EP, so I didn’t know that all of this was going to happen,” she says of her reaction to the nominations. “Even before the Grammys, all of the support that I’ve seen — I just could have never expected it.” Last year, she took home best new artist at the BET Awards, Soul Train Music Awards and NAACP Images Awards.
“Being recognized as best new artist — really, best anything in music — to me is the ultimate award,” Jones says. “It’s not just ‘we like your music,’ but it’s the journey that has brought me to this point. It’s all of the unanswered questions and the uncertain times that inspired the music that I write,” she adds. “It shows me that those times of doubt were worth pushing through.”
Music has been a constant for the 26-year-old creative, although her acting career was first to take root. She was a Disney child actress, starring in musical film “Let It Shine” and sitcom “Good Luck Charlie.” In 2022 she was cast as Hilary Banks in “Bel-Air,” a dramatic reimagining of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”; she’ll soon return to set to film the show’s third season.
Late last year she signed with joint label Def Jam/High Standardz, and credits the power of networking — and TikTok — for a surge of interest in her music.
“I was in these remixes of a lot of popular songs at the time, and they gave me a lot of visibility. A lot of people got reinterested in me creatively as an artist,” she says. “It really was right timing — but also it was more visibility, and that was because of TikTok.”
Jones adds that part of the reward of her career success is the visibility of representation.
“I’m constantly inspired by the support that I receive from my fans. I recognize that a lot of what I do is about representation, and what has kept me going a lot of the time is wanting to be an example of success for a dark-skinned Black girl,” she says. “I feel like the more of us that win the merrier, and the more that it inspires the next younger generation of young Black girls to keep pursuing these big dreams.”
“More” is Jones’ vision for 2024. “I want my songs to reach more countries and more people, more ethnicities, more age groups. I want to bring my family along for more of the ride,” she says of her goals for the next year. “I want them to see something that I’ve worked on my entire life and the payoff and get to enjoy that journey with me.”
Jones is working on her debut album, and was soon heading to Miami to spend a few uninterrupted days in the studio. She’s taking advantage of rare windows of time with no other major commitments — promotion, touring, filming — to cross the finish line.
“I’ve always been balancing other things while working on my debut album. I want a moment where that’s the one thing on my to do list,” says Jones. “And then I just want to sit with everything for as long as I possibly can.”
Leading up to the Grammys, Jones partnered with Spotify for their best new artist campaign, and hosted an event with Grey Goose. “I’m excited to get my cheers on,” she says. “I can’t wait to celebrate with them over these next couple of events — and hopefully celebrate some Grammy wins.” A few days before the awards, it was revealed that Jones had signed an exclusive publishing agreement with Warner Chappell Music.
So, yes: you can expect to see more from Jones very, very soon.
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