Born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents Jo-l grew up between the Bronx, New York, and Luquillo, in the island of Puerto Rico. His love for the art of singing was awakened at the early age of 4 while watching television appearances by legendary performers like Tom Jones, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. The young boy started singing at family gatherings.
The power and the presence of these great entertainers were crucial and very influential in the development of Jo-l and his musical career. His cousin Tito Ramos is one of the biggest names and pioneers of the Boogaloo era in the 60s & 70s; Ramos wrote, composed and sang the Boogaloo classic hit Boogaloo blues, for the Johnny Colon Orchestra, which became their trademark song, and is now a classic for the genre. "I remember watching my cousin on television and hearing his songs on the radio, and thinking to myself that's what I want do when I grow up", says Jo-l.
At 15, Jo-l was already on a national television show called Putting on the Hits, where he performed songs of one of his mentors Michael Jackson. When he was 16 yrs old the NAACP awarded him a songwriter award, and on his high school graduation day, he was given another award for his work as a prolific composer. Since then Jo-l writes, arranges, composes, and produces most of his material.
During his school days he decided to get together with two friends and form a group in the style of New Edition, and that's how Nite & Day became a reality. The group lasted from 1985 to 2000.
In 1989, Jo-l was cast as a dancer for Club MTV, a popular dance show hosted by Downtown Julie Brown. But his first professional opportunity as a singer took place in Boston Massachusetts, when Nite & Day was given the chance to open up for the biggest group at that time, The New Kids On The Block, at the Lynn Memorial Auditorium.
This opportunity led the way to open shows for Brenda K. Starr, Will To Power, The Cover Girls, The Commodores, and the Boston Dance Music Award Show.
They also opened shows for a variety of Latin artists including Domingo Quinones, Millie Quesada, Frankie Negron, The Barrio Boys, T.K.A., Angel Lopez (of Son by Four) and La India.
Now Jo-l is ready to break as a solo artist with his first production entitled Breaking Rules (Rompiendo Reglas). With this album the artist is trying something new and fresh, he created his own genre of music "Sal-Fuzion", which is a fusion of salsa, reggaeton, R&B with a hip hop swing.
This is the way that Jo-l wants to reach the younger generation that normally doesn't listen to Latin music. "If you give them what they're used to hearing from the American market, and add some Latin flavor to it, we can persuade our people to stay in tune with their Latin roots, and we can turn other people to our music. It's all in how you blend it", says Jo-l.
The album includes 10 songs, most of them in "Spanglish" (a mixture of Spanish and English) in order to appeal to a wider young audience. "One of the best things about the songs on this album is that you don't have to know Spanish to enjoy it", explains the singer. It has a lot of the flavor of salsa while still staying true to today's street urban sound.
The driving rhythms and the kicking beats make a big difference, especially on tracks like "Keep It In Step" which has a military theme to it, with a bootcamp style military chant as its main hook, topped off with strong salsa rhythms and a booming reggaeton beat.
Another highlight is a sal-fuzion remake of the 1971 stylistic hit "You Make Me Feel Brand New" where he paired up with Jenny Padilla, one of the singers of the famous Broadway show RENT. The result is a very powerful and soulful rendition to this 70's classic.
"No me la muevas" is a more reggaeton based song, but still with a lot of salsa influence and hip hop inuendos. "Te equivocaste" is a beautiful ballad with a full live string section produced by Mark Anthony's vocal producer Guianko Gomez and the 22 piece string section was conducted by Luis Columna (Ese Hombre with Brenda K. Starr, Tito Nieves and Victor Manuelle) who has produced Colombian leading band Grupo Niche.
The album features a bonus track which is a dance re-mix of the Bee Gee's #1 hit single "How deep is your love", sal-fuzion style, perfect for the dance clubs. Breaking Rules was partly recorded at skylight studios in New Jersey, where La India and Brenda K. Starr record, and at DTA music recording studios in Miami Beach and mastered by Michael Fuller of Fuller Sound (Bee Gees, Rod Stewart, Juan Gabriel, Dirty Dancing Soundtrack).
The production team for this album includes Columna; the world famous percussionist Luisito Quintero; and Gomez. Jo-l teamed up with veteran composer Manny Mercado to write most of the songs from the record, using their own unique fusion of different musical styles, to help contribute to the revolution of the genre, and take it far beyond on an international level.
With his experience as a dancer Jo-l completes his talents as a singer with a show that is visual, dramatic and musical. He wants the public to have the opportunity to see a show involving choreography, dancers, costumes, a female DJ, lighting effects, and a great band, which is the nature of a true performer.
This year Jo-l was one of the featured artists during the 2005 Latin Billboard Award Showcase that took place in Miami, FL.
On his first solo album Jo-l has taken salsa, reggaeton, and the hip hop genre and given it a refreshingly, Latin twist. With his new sound "sal-fuzion" Jo-l is sure to start Breaking Rules!