A decade ago, teenage sensation JoJo emerged as a breakout star with a string of hit singles, seemingly poised to become the next big thing in pop. But that destiny has been stalled for the past seven years as she's battled with her label to release new music and, eventually, to let her out of her contract. She's now free, and she signed a deal with Atlantic Records in December, the Los Angeles Times reported today.

At age 13, JoJo, whose real name is Joanna Levesque, released her self titled debut, which featured hit singles "Baby It's You," featuring Bow Wow, and "Leave (Get Out). She became the youngest solo artist to earn a No. 1 single in the U.S. when the latter topped the pop charts. Her second album, The High Road, came out in 2006 and featured the massive single "Too Little Too Late."

But since then, the Massachusetts singer has been unable to release new music commercially, mostly due to legal issues with her label, Blackground Music. Despite a string of loose songs and mixtape releases, as well as a fan lobby in the form of the #FreeJoJo hashtag, she has not had an official album  for seven years. Now 23, JoJo has repositioned herself for an older, hipper audience with releases like 2012's Agapé and the Noah "40" Shebib-produced track "Demonstrate."

In a suit filed against the label in the New York State Supreme Court last summer, JoJo asked to be released from her contract and claimed that she had essentially been kept in limbo. She noted that she had turned in a third album and had it accepted but that it was never released and that producers and other "vendors" were never paid. She also cited laws in New York and California that allow people who sign contracts as minors to be released from them after seven years.

She has been freed from the contract, and Atlantic signed her in December. With her brand of smooth R&B hipper than ever, she could be hopping on the label at just the right time.

[via Los Angeles Times]

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