Lebanon’s Courtney “Coco” Jones is living a dream.
At barely 15 years old, Jones can boast chart-topping singles, recurring television roles and the lead role in the top television movie of 2012.
But when she comes home to Lebanon, Coco Jones is just Courtney.
Although Jones was born in Columbia, S.C., she has lived in Lebanon for most of her life, attending Cedars Preparatory School and Friendship Christian School before home schooling.
“I have neighbors I can walk up to their house and watch a movie with them,” said Jones.
The ride really began for Jones when, as a 9-year-old, she sang the National Anthem at an L.A. Rams football game.
Jones’s father, Mike Jones is a former NFL player, and her mother, Javonda Jones, is a session vocalist.
“My dad had played professional football for nine years, so he knew a lot of people who were over National Anthems and over production for football games, so I sent in some of my songs to them,” said Jones. “Before you knew it, an opportunity came up for me to sing the National Anthem.”
When the video of her performance hit YouTube, it garnered 1 million hits.
After seeing the video and the public’s response, representatives from Disney invited Jones to appear on Disney’s Next Best Thing television competition in 2010, where she placed as a finalist.
Over the next two years, Jones appeared in a recurring role on Disney’s So Random! and Good Luck Charlie, and in 2012, she starred in the Disney Channel original movie, Let It Shine.
The soundtrack for Let It Shine sold more than 130,000 copies and charted on Billboard’s Top 200 for more than three months.
Her singles “What I Said,” “Guardian Angel” and “Holla at the DJ” all appeared on the radiodisney.com Top 3 countdown, and she has an album, Made Of, scheduled for release March 5.
“People in Tennessee, some of them still have a hard time believing that I actually do all this stuff,” said Jones in a recent telephone interview with The Democrat from Atlanta.
And all that stuff keeps her pretty busy.
“My mom always tells me that your voice is basically a muscle, and if you don’t lift every day, then it just gets weaker and weaker. So I have to train every day and do voice lessons for at least 30 minutes because that’s how long a typical show of mine would be,” said Jones.
She also has to rehearse dance routines for her live performances, and she brushes up on her acting by reviewing old scripts and taking occasional acting classes.
“My day changes every day, and even during the day, my day changes. It’s crazy, my schedule,” said Jones. “Sometimes I’m going to the studio, other times I have meetings, other times I have a call time cause I’m in a show – everything changes; there’s not a repetitive schedule in my life.”
She admitted she lost several friends as a result of both her newfound fame and her schedule, but she still has a core group of best friends who are just happy for her.
“I have a couple of friends – who are my best friends – who really understand that when I’m not here, it’s not because I don’t want to be here, it’s because I’m working or I’m out of state,” said Jones. “They understand that I’m not always going to be there for sleepovers and everything… It wouldn’t work with anybody else, they just wouldn’t get it.”
As different as her life is now from her friends in Lebanon, part of what she appreciates so much in those friends is that very difference.
“I honestly like to hang out with a lot of people who don’t really have that much involvement in the business – they have other dreams,” said Jones. “They have different goals, and that’s just not something they really care about as much. I know that they’re being friends with me not because of what I do, but because of who I am.”
And while some might consider fame challenging for someone her age, Jones said she hasn’t really seen that. She does admit it takes her off guard sometimes, though.
“It is kind of shocking sometimes how fans will cry and ask for my autograph and beg to take pictures with me,” said Jones. “When people beg for my autograph, I’m like, ‘it’s not that cool,’ - I don’t think that my autographs are cool.”
To Jones, the ride is not about the fame.
“When it comes to fame, I mean, I don’t really call it that, I just call it doing what I love, and it happens to be that people enjoy it, too,” said Jones.