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How Run the World’s young female influencers found hope in music and one another

Run the World combines the talents of Kheris Rogers, left, Hayley LeBlanc, Corinne Joy and Jessalyn Grace.
Run the World combines the talents of Kheris Rogers, left, Hayley LeBlanc, Corinne Joy and Jessalyn Grace, seen in a composite image because they can’t get together during the pandemic.
(Columbia Records’ Jam Jr.)

The four girls of Run the World, a new pop group that launched while its members have been in quarantine, have never met in person. But you wouldn’t know that after listening to its catchy debut single, “Rainbow.”

They greet one another like old friends in the group’s various interviews and TV appearances, often talking over one another and laughing at their accidental interruptions. Sometimes they even know what the other is going to say before they say it.

“Our bond is definitely unbreakable. We all love each other so much already. We have definitely the best conversations ever,” Corinne Joy said in a recent Zoom interview with the group’s other members.

Run the World is made up of four diverse young influencers from different realms of entertainment: Joy, 13, is a dancer; Hayley LeBlanc, 11, is a YouTuber and actress; Jessalyn Grace, 13, is a YouTuber, model and dancer and Kheris Rogers, 13, is an activist and ambassador for brands such as her own clothing line.

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Each girl has her own social media platforms that showcase her personality; combined they have a reach of 10 million followers. Their YouTube channels and Instagram and TikTok accounts established them as internet stars before they moved into music.

Of their group name, Kheris said, “It was to show other girls that you can do anything you put your mind to. So we came together as Run the World because as girls we have to let people know that girls run the world.”

Released last week and debuting at No. 3 on the iTunes Children’s Music chart, Run the World’s “Rainbow” encourages children to have hope and appreciate the little things in the midst of an isolating pandemic.

“What I hope people get from our debut single ‘Rainbow’ is that we’re here for you, that you’re not alone in any situation you go through at all,” Rogers said. “There are thousands of people that are going through the same thing. And we’re just here to sing.”

The four girls were brought together by Columbia Records through its project Jam Jr., a subsection of the label that focuses on producing family-friendly content for children, and through a partnership with Justice, a clothing brand popular with Run the World’s target audience.

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“Rainbow” was inspired by the trend of children putting homemade rainbows in their windows since the COVID-19 crisis sent families into quarantine. The music video balances candid scenes with synchronized choreography as each girl eventually tapes her own rainbow onto a window of her home.

With each member singing a lead vocal on the verses, the song’s bouncy electronic beats sound like something you’d hear on pop radio and build to an uplifting chorus: “You can have a rainbow right here / A pretty little rainbow right here.”

Run the World includes Kheris Rogers, left, Hayley LeBlanc, Corinne Joy and Jessalyn Grace.
(Columbia Records’ Jam Jr.)

Before joining Run the World, Rogers created the clothing brand Flexin’ in My Complexion. She never thought she would be a singer.

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“I can hold a note, but it was never something that I took seriously,” she said. “I’ve played the piano since I was 4 years old. I never thought I would be in a girl group, especially with these girls.”

The group came together under extraordinary circumstances, working with coronavirus restrictions to create its new song and music video separately within members’ homes. But that hasn’t dampened their positive attitudes or chemistry together.

“All of us are super easy to talk to,” LeBlanc said. “And we can make a super easy, quick conversation and still be super hilarious. We’re just comedians.”

LeBlanc has been with Jam Jr. for almost two years as host of “Jam Jr.,” its YouTube series about music, and she has been on YouTube with her family since she was 2 years old. Grace focuses her YouTube videos on lifestyle topics while she works with Jam Jr. on musical projects. Joy, a dancer, also likes to paint and skate in her spare time.

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The girls all had some kind of a relationship to music before forming Run the World. Joy and Rogers have singing experience, and LeBlanc plays different instruments. Grace had a passion for singing before she signed with Jam Jr.

Meridith Rojas, the DigiTour founder who is now Jam Jr.’s independent brand strategist, and Ryan Ruden, the label’s senior vice president of experiential marketing and business development, found the girls’ natural chemistry a good fit for the group. Their collective social media presence was impressive too and reflected the values that Jam Jr. wanted for its new project.

“Especially in this case, it was about selecting four girls that had great connections to their audiences already,” Rojas told The Times. “It was really figuring out who is connecting with this preteen audience [and] finding people that have a platform and a voice and use it for important stuff.”

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And that’s exactly what Columbia found in Run the World, particularly in the empowering message of its new song.

“Our song ‘Rainbow’ is to inspire other people, and it’s also dedicated to the essential workers out there because of what’s happening around the world,” Grace said. “We just want to show people that it’s OK to cry, it’s OK to be upset, but you can always find your rainbow, and you can always stay positive.”


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