Almost everyone has some sort of talent. Some talents are weird or quirky, like a few of mine. One I’ll share is that I can twist the top of my thumb backwards. Weird, right? Most talents are of common interests amongst large groups and communities, such as sports and music. These talents are rare, and just like my thumb, tend to leave people in amazement when they recognize it. British starlet, Joss Stone, a singer and songwriter has captivated millions with her amazing voice.
In 2001, the world was introduced to and had their breath taken away by then 14-year-old Joss Stone. Stone had won an amateur BBC singing competition, which led to an opportunity for her come here to the United States and record. Having always been a fan of Soul and Neo-Soul artists before her, Stone continuously wowed labels who realized instantly how big she could become. Still just a minor, Stone needed her parents’ permission to be able to do some things that were necessary for her to be able to give her all to her music.
Upon Stone’s arrival here 2003, there was quite a buzz surrounding the teen. Who was this teen sensation that was bursting on the scene without a single yet, but was already working with some of R&B and Soul’s royalty? Joss Stone came out or the gates with a collaboration with the legendary R&B and Soul singer Betty Wright, in which set the stage for Wright to become Stone’s co-producer and background singer throughout her debut album as well. On a personal note, Wright had taken Stone under her wing and became a mentor for her early in her career.
The Soul Sessions, Stone’s first project, was a huge hit here and internationally as well. While the album had a few major features in addition to Betty Wright, it was her voice that had answered any ray of doubt there may have been. The Soul Sessions featured Angie Stone and The Roots, which undoubtedly helped the throwback, soulful feel Joss Stone and her team wanted. The album sold over 500,000 units here in the U.S., and came close to doubling that total in the U.K. Stone had developed a strong core following that included a wide variety of demographics, which is very unique.
After the success of her first album, the fans were as eager as she was for the next project to be complete. The second time around though, Stone was more involved in the writing process. Her 2005 album, Mind, Body, & Soul was comprised of 14 songs, 12 of which Stone had written. This album catapulted her into bona fide, international stardom. She became the youngest female to top the charts in the U.K., and had also gone platinum in several countries.
Five albums and nearly a decade after the teen sensation’s rise to the top, Stone is still making music to feed the soul. Her most recently released album was 2012’s The Soul Sessions, Vol. II. This sequel was much like her debut album, where she would be doing covers to previously written songs. This time around it was more a bit more natural for her, in part because she had gotten a feel for writing her own songs. Instead of it hindering her creativity, she told Elle magazine that it actually brought about even more of her creative juices. “You have to be more creative than you would be if you were writing. When you’re writing, you can do whatever you want—there are no rules, no boundaries. But when you’re covering something, you have to make sure the lyrics and the structure of the song are the same.” She explained, “You have to be respectful of the song, before you make changes. We’re making versions of the songs that are completely different; otherwise you may as well have a karaoke record.”
Nowadays, Stone is free from the hassles and pressures that come from being represented by a record label. It’s always nice to be your own boss, or at least have the luxury of working at your own pace. She also has rather close ties to her fan base.
This past winter, she held an art contest for her fans to send in possible album art for her upcoming album Water for Your Soul. Upon choosing the winner, she left a brief yet inspiring message explaining why that particular piece was chosen on her official website, jossstone.com. “I have chosen this piece it says to me how free we can be. It says to me love, fluidity; Mother Nature’s earth is what gives us soul,” she said. After a three year hiatus, she went on to give the rest of her fans a few words of encouragement about the upcoming project. As she said later in the statement about the artwork for her latest album, “I better get my ass back in the studio and make this album live up to its cover!”
– Blake Holmes