Jo Black, the man behind the beard

 Jo Black tells of his metamorphosis from family man to bearded icon and South African singing sensation.

Who is Jo Black?

If you ask him who he is, he would answer and finish it with a deep laugh. “I’m just Jo, an ordinary guy from Pretoria. The dad of two beautiful princesses and a husband for Debbie, one of the coolest people I know. Oh and I also happen sing a little.”

Jo Black, born Jo Engelbrecht, is a Pretoria North boy who had to learn early on that life does not always play fair. He was in grade 12 when he lost his best friend, “That Guy,” in a freak accident at his house, this death was a turning point in his life. Later he started his own construction company where he built everything from roads, buildings to hospitals.

Be That Guy/Girl

Today, Jo is building bridges to healing for teenagers across South Africa with his Be That Guy / Girl initiative, through which he has visited more than 242 schools throughout the country. His goal is to make every person feel like someone. “Be that person you needed.”

Jo also shares that he is not always “that guy”, but that he is a regular guy who believes in hope, change and healing is a daily process. “My message is easy, keep dreaming and believe. For each spring you will have a winter that will prepare you for the next season.”

Where did it start?

Jo is part of the Inhoudhuis family, where he worked with writers and legends like Johan Vorster and Christoph Kotzé on his debut album, Skepe. Skepe did not just go gold within the first six weeks, but was a hit worldwide and has been number one on iTunes for weeks. After just a few days, his music video almost had a million views.

Jo’s story is inspiring, but as he tells us how everything began, it becomes clear that not only the rich and famous can experience miracles. An normal guy from Pretoria can also get a place under the sun. There is a story behind the scenes that few people know about and inspired us here at BLOSS. This is the story of how Jo and Johan Vorster crossed their roads.

Many people think because he’s new to the market, he only just started singing, but Jo has actually been singing for 16 years. When Jo decided to grow his beard, an international beard company approached him to use his photo on their marketing. With a face that looks like a bearded and younger version of George Clooney, who can blame them? Johan Vorster came across Jo’s picture through the internet.

Johan then asked social media if anyone knew someone who looked like that and who could sing. One of his friends commented on the post saying that it is Jo Black and that he meets all of the above requirements. When Johan went to see one of Jo’s performances, it was game over and the rest was a product of hard work and long hours. Little did he know that the decision to grow his beard would take him in the right direction.

In the end…

Time with Jo makes it clear that hope is something South Africa needs! Bring back the hope. What are your dreams? It’s never too late. Keep on hope, believe and fight for what you want. Ladies … Next time your husband wants to live his wildest beard dreams, just think What if the man does not make the beard, but the beard can make the man?

Written by Francois Olivier
Francois Olivier
Francois Olivier


Francois Olivier is Media24's acclaimed Celebrity Photographer and Designer. He is currently the owner of Olivier Productions & Vocal Coaching SA, and has worked with industry leaders like Steve Hofmeyr, Kurt Darren, Nicholis Louw, Gerhard Steyn, Karlien van Jaarsveld and many more. With his fourteen years of experience in the fashion and modeling industry the magazine and publishing world is the next stepping stone.

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BLOSS is an international media platform for South African women who live all over the world in the age group, 20 – 35 years. We integrate print and technology through innovative and exciting ways to keep things fresh, modern and interactive.