Singer and songwriter JoJo Martin’s upcoming debut album feature cameos by Kirk Franklin and Kierra Sheard.
Hawaii native, JoJo Martin, is no stranger to the music world.JoJo has written songs that have been recorded by Fred Hammond, James Fortune & FIYA, The Anointed Pace Sisters, Gene Moore, Cheryl Fortune, Lowell Pye, and Bishop Paul S. Morton.
On July 15th, 2022, GRAMMY ® Award winning R&B recording artist and producer, PJ Morton, will introduce the world to his protégé/former background vocalist, JoJo Martin, on the latter’s brilliant debut solo album, Temporary Tears (Morton Inspiration / Tyscot).
The road to this album has not been easy. At the age of 29, Martin’s brother, Jerome, died from complications of the kidney disease FSGS (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis). Then, Martin was diagnosed too and went on dialysis – 9 hours a night at one point, while awaiting a kidney donor. “I was getting peritoneal dialysis,” he recalls. “It was very hard. You can’t shower. You can’t get wet. You have to live a certain way. If you have it, it usually activates when you are in your 20s and it kills your kidneys. I had a temperature of 104 every day. My kidney function fell to 5%, my blood pressure was sky high.”
For years, Martin kept his condition quiet as he toured as a background singer for the likes of Dave Hollister, Fred Hammond, and Morton. However, after attending Kirk Franklin’s “20 Years in One Night” concert stop in Atlanta in 2016, that all changed. “It was down the street from my hospital,” he recalls. He went but was too ill to stay. After that three-week hospital stay, he finally caught the whole concert when it went to Jacksonville, FL. “Kirk knew me, and I was friends with his singers Cheryl Fortune and Nikki Ross. When they heard I was coming, Cheryl and Nikki asked if I would sing if Kirk called me up? I didn’t know about that because I had lost so much weight and was walking on a cane because I couldn’t stabilize myself.”
Franklin did call Martin up. From the edge of the stage, he handed him the microphone and started feeding him the lyrics to “Intercession” from Franklin’s Losing My Religion album. The capacity audience at the Moran Theatre cheered and applauded as Franklin and his singers began to crowd around the singer. Franklin prayed out loud for Martin’s health. Camera phone videos of the exchange hit social media in real-time and in days, there were millions of views. “It was a major turning point in my career,” Martin muses. “I woke up to the people in the dialysis center wondering if that was me that they were watching on YouTube.” Finally, in August 2018, Britini Ruff, a friend of Martin’s, came forward to donate a kidney. It was a successful surgery and Martin has been on the bounce back ever since.
Throughout Temporary Tears, Martin presents his journey in a manner that makes it the journey of anyone who’s ever faced tough times. However, there’s always hope. “I didn’t want to do an album for church people,” he explains. “If they [the church community] don’t have enough music by now then it’s too late. There are still people out there angry with God or broken or feeling whatever, they feel. I wanted to connect with those people. What does joy in the morning look like for me when I’ve had so many sleepless nights? When my health challenge went viral, that opened so many doors for people who were a day away from giving up but that encouraged them. There were some people saying, ` I haven’t prayed in years but I’m praying now because I’m praying for you.’ That was bigger than the music. It’s a connection to people. Even if they weren’t on dialysis, they don’t have to be on dialysis to know some of these same emotions.”