|Birth name||Ayanna Porter|
|Also known as||Ayanna "Joni" Portee|
|Born||November 27, 1976|
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Labels||So So Def, Columbia|
Ayanna Porter (born November 27, 1976), better known by her stage name INOJ, is an American singer and songwriter. Her 1997 debut single, "Love You Down", a cover of the 1986 Ready for the World hit, reached number 25 in the United States. Her 1998 debut album was also named Ready for the World. INOJ released a cover version of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" under Columbia Records in 1998, which was a top 10 hit in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. She also released a version of Anita Ward's "Ring My Bell".
INOJ was born in Madison, Wisconsin. As baby, she started singing War's "The Cisco Kid" in her crib before she was talking. She sang in the high school choir. She wanted to have a singing career, but her parents convinced her to pursue engineering, another passion. She decided to attend the University of Baltimore because it was near Washington, D.C., and not too far from New York City, and she had a better chance of connecting with music producers. In her sophomore year of college, she joined a girl group called Spellbound, who got signed to a major label recording contract. The group disbanded, and she became a songwriter.
She was asked by So So Def producers to sing a reference track for someone else to hear and emulate, and she recorded her vocals to "Love You Down". The producers immediately put her version out as the final product. At this time, she created her stage name INOJ, pronounced "eye know jay". The name is "Joni" spelled backwards; her birth name is Ayanna and she had been nicknamed Yanni, but she spelled the nickname Joni for personal style.
When discussing her musical style in an interview with Billboard, INOJ stated that she doesn't identify with one particular genre of music. According to her, "I try not to classify my sound, but I think I would call myself rhythm and pop instead of R&B." She continued saying, "R&B is more street today than rhythm and blues, and I'm definitely not urban, so I guess I've come up with a new category of my own."
INOJ said she was raised listening to artists such as the Carpenters and Sandy Patty. She is influenced by artists Minnie Riperton, Stevie Wonder, Chicago, Michael Jackson, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Shania Twain, Shawn Colvin and Aaliyah.
- 1999: Ready for the World
- 1997: "Love You Down" (US No. 25, 20 weeks)
- 1998: "Time After Time" (US No. 6, 16 weeks)
- 1999: "Ring My Bell"
- 2007: "Nine to Five"
- 2008: "Baby You"
- 2011: "On"
- 2012: "Love Thang"
- 2012: "It's Over"
- 2016: "My Love for You"
- 2017: "LYD (Love You Down)"
- 2018: "September Love"
- Phares, Heather. "INOJ Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
- Taylor, Chuck (September 19, 1998). "Ingénue INOJ Follows Her Instincts As 'Time After Time' Clicks At Top 40". Billboard. Vol. 110, no. 38. p. 96. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Brooks, Crispin (November 17, 2020). "Interviews: INOJ". Planet Thirty. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
- "Ingenue INOJ Follows Her Instincts As "Time After Time" Clicks At Top 40". Billboard. September 19, 1998. p. 96. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
- Billboard Hot 100 Chart from June 20, 1998, the last week the single was on the 100.
- Billboard Hot 100 Chart from Dec 5, 1998, the last week the single was on the 100.