*She was born Courtney Jones in South Carolina, but young Disney fans know her as Coco Jones, the Lebanon, Tennessee-raised singer/rapper/dancer from Radio Disney’s “Next Big Thing [NBT]” who is about to make her film debut in the Disney Channel movie “Let It Shine.”
“It’s funny. My mom, she actually bought me a fairytale ornament because this year has really been a princess year for me,” said Jones, who likely got her set of pipes from her mother, Javonda Jones, a session vocalist.
Her tenacity could’ve been passed down from her father, former NFL defensive end Mike Jones. The rising star, 14, was just 6-years-old when she sang “America the Beautiful” at her kindergarten graduation – her first performance before an audience. Three years later, she was negotiating with Disney.
In 2010, she took her talents to Radio Disney’s NBT contest.
“It’s where the Disney family they go and they search all different types of talent, and they pick five finalists that they want to enter the contest,” Jones explained. “Then the voters – who get to see us perform our music on Disney Channel and on Radio Disney – they choose which one is the winner. And that was actually the start for me.
Her song, “Real You,” became a Radio Disney hit – leading to her starring role in “Let it Shine,” a modern take on the Cyrano de Bergerac tale premiering Friday, June 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
“Coco, this young lady is miraculous,” says Dawnn Lewis, who plays the mother of Tyler James Williams’ Cyrano character, Cyrus . “Thirteen years old when we started this movie, a voice like I don’t know what, an acting sponge. There is nothing that she does not want to learn, nothing she’s not willing to try and stretch herself to accomplish.”
In “Let it Shine,” Coco plays Roxanne “Roxie” Andrews, a famous teen singer at the center of a love triangle between her childhood friends Cyrus DeBarge (Tyler James Williams) and his BFF Kris McDuffy (Trevor Jackson). When her record label holds a songwriting contest, Cyrus is too shy to compete — but agrees to let Kris deliver his romantic hip hop rhymes, which are inspired by his crush on Roxie. When Roxie inevitably starts falling for Kris, Cyrus must learn to work through his self-esteem issues to reveal his authentic self and pursue his dreams.
Meanwhile, Cyrus – also the choir director at his father’s church – is at odds with his father for pursing a rap career instead of doubling down on his talent for gospel.
Below, Dawnn Lewis says the film “approaches family and relationship from a very real point of view.”
Below, Coco and Tyler perform “Me and You” from “Let it Shine” on “Good Morning America.”