Since she first emerged as an artist in 2003 when she was just 15 years old, British singer/songwriter Joss Stone has been an acclaimed singer & songwriter. She’s had gold and platinum success and she’s a Grammy and BRIT Award winner. She is known as a powerful soul/R&B vocalist who can sing classic songs, as well as write & perform her own songs.
Stone has released seven albums to date, and she had the biggest success with her first three albums: The Soul Sessions (in 2003, certified gold), Mind, Body & Soul (2004, platinum) and Introducing Joss Stone (2007, gold). She’s had four Top 20 UK hits (“Fell in Love with a Boy,” “Super Duper Love,” “You Had Me” and “Don’t Cha Wanna Ride”), and she had a Top 40 hit in the U.S. (“Cry Baby/Piece of My Heart”) with Melissa Etheridge.
Recently, Stone has released an excellent new single, “Never Forget My Love” and she’s released another new song, “Breaking Each Other’s Hearts.” Notably, she wrote both songs with Grammy-winning writer/producer Dave Stewart, who is best known for being co-founder of the duo, the Eurythmics (with Annie Lennox) and for this work with Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Mick Jagger and other artists.
Stone and Stewart have collaborated on many new songs, that will be released on Stone’s upcoming album called Never Forget My Love. Stone is now signed with Stewart’s label, Bay Street Records, and her new album will be released in early 2022.
Stone was born in Dover, Kent, England, and she fell in love with music and singing at a young age. She particularly loved soul music and was inspired by such classic artists as Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield. When she was 13, she auditioned for the BBC talent show, Star for a Night, and she emerged as a talented new artist. Soon after, she met U.S. music exec Steve Greenberg, who signed her to his label, S-Curve Records (distributed by EMI). Greenberg then worked with Stone on her debut album, The Soul Sessions, which featured her performing strong renditions of classic R&B songs.
Here’s the video of Joss Stone’s new single, “Breaking Each
Following her first album, Stone began writing her own material. Impressively, she displayed her songwriting skills by co-writing most of the songs for her next two albums, Mind, Body & Soul and Introducing Joss Stone. Since then, she has released the albums Colour Me Free! (2009), LP1 (2011), The Soul Sessions Vol. 2 (2012) and Water For Your Soul (2015).
In 2014, Stone embarked on a massive, international concert tour called the Total World Tour, which is unprecedented in its scope, and the number of countries she visited. Stone’s mission was to perform shows in every country in the world, and she played in over 200 countries including Syria, North Korea, Zambia, Haiti, Venezuela, Iraq and many others. Her goal was not only to do shows in these countries, but to collaborate with local musicians and help raise money for charities in each region. In coordination with the Total World Tour, Stone established the Joss Stone Foundation, which was built to continue supporting the people she connected with.
On a lighter note, Stone recently appeared on the UK version of the popular show, The Masked Singer. She performed several times wearing a funny disguise, and came in first place.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Joss Stone. She talks about her songwriting, her collaboration with Dave Stewart and her upcoming album. She also discusses her early hit albums, and how she decided to embark on her Total World Tour.
DK: You have a new single coming out called “Breaking Each Other’s Hearts,” which you wrote with Dave Stewart. Can you talk about this song?
Joss Stone: Dave and I were writing for a play at the time, at this place in the Bahamas. And maybe because we were in that energy, we were trying things that were more emotive. I mean, my whole life has been in R&B music; that’s where I live and I’ve been brought up. So to me, this song’s style is a bit more serious and organized…I wanted to do something that was more dramatic. Whereas before, it’s been more groove-based…more bluesy which is very relaxed. And I had played with Burt Bacharach the year before, and I had to learn a lot of his songs. I knew most of them because I’d listened to the songs he wrote for Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick. But I realized when I was breaking them down and learning them, with the timing and how the lyrics lay, I thought, every single thing is very deliberate.
Here’s the video of Joss Stone’s single, “Never Forget My Love.”
So I said to Dave (Stewart), “Can we do that?” And he said, “of course.” So we started writing it with the guitar, and we came up with a few ideas—the structure, the way the shape was gonna be. And the chorus came so easily. Then I worked on the lyrics, and I would send him that.
This song is actually very sad. It’s just a comment on humans…this is what we do to each other. We do it to our friends, we do it to our family…we do it to everybody that we love. We break each other’s hearts all the time. And when people stay together after that, or come back, and their relationship remains, that’s when I think you know, that’s it’s really love.
DK: You have a new album coming out soon. Can you talk about the other songs that will be on your album?
Stone: We put out a single called “Never Forget My Love,” and there’s one more called “Oh To Be Loved By You.” That one’s more of a bouncy, poppy one, and the lyrics are saying, “It’s just amazing to be loved by you.” On my first album (The Soul Sessions), I did a song called “Super Duper Love,” and this one reminds me of that song. So we made a video for that one, and it’s coming out in February.
DK: Are there other songs on your new album that you’d like to talk about?
Stone: There are 10 songs on the album. The album’s title comes from my song, “Never Forget My Love.” Dave suggested that we use that title, because he said, “Joss, that’s you. That’s who you are.” And that’s so true…Never forget my love…really, that’s all I want to do with my life, is to spread good feelings with love. So I do like that title and it explains where I’m at.
One of my favorite songs on the new album is “You’re My Girl.” I started to write it about my friend Celine, who came on the world tour with me. She’s a good mate to me, so I was thinking…You’re my girl. This songs can be great for everybody who has a best girlfriend. Also when I was writing it, I was four months pregnant, and I think I’m having a girl. Then my daughter was born and I sing it to her all the time. So I love that one.
Here’s the lyric video of Joss Stone’s song, “Walk With Me.”
Another favorite song is “I Love You Til The Very End,” that’s so sad. It says, “I’ll love you ‘til the very end, even though the scars won’t mend. Please don’t take the words I’ve said in vain.” It’s a beautiful song and the music is absolutely amazing.
DK: During the past few years, you played shows in over 200 countries on your Total World Tour. Why did you decide to embark on this big tour?
Stone: I suppose it was about righting a wrong. I had heard the term—world tour—many times. I think I got the idea when I was 20 or 21. I was playing a gig in Japan at a festival called Fuji Rock. When I got there, we got to the top of this mountain, and we had to go through the clouds, and it looked very different with the nature there. And the people and culture there was very different, like from another world. And it was kind of magical and ethereal to me. It was raining, yet there were 40,000 people up for it. I was onstage and I felt…Wow, this is different. Then when I got off the stage, I said to my friend Paul, “Music can take me anywhere. If I can get here with just singing, I literally can go anywhere. There’s nowhere I can’t go if we can get here.”
I asked Paul, who’s a war journalist and knows a lot about the world and the issues. “Has anybody done a world tour, where you visit every country and play shows?” He said, “No one goes to every country in the world. They just [go to certain countries]” And I thought…that is so wrong. Because I’m so literal, I thought…Well that’s not fair. What about all those places? Maybe they want to have a gig. And as I traveled around the world [and played shows], I realized just how unfair that is. You know, in Venezuela artists don’t go there, because they can’t take their money home. You can get paid in Venezuela, but you’ve got to leave the money in Venezuela. So what we did was give the money to a charity there. We said, “Thank you very much for having us.” And there are a lot of places where you don’t get paid, but you can play. We’re musicians, we can do this…this is why we play. We play so people feel happy. So that’s why I did it.
DK: I want to ask you about the early part of your career. You had great success as a teenager, singing R&B and soul. So how did you get started and sign your first label deal?
Here’s the video of Joss Stone in Gambia on her Total World
Tour, performing with Royal Messenjah.
Stone: I think the people who signed me and helped me through it. They realized [my artist potential] long before I did. I didn’t have the confidence that I do now. At the time, I was just a young girl singing. When I was 12, there was a story about a horse our family had, that I loved. My mom and dad sold our horse because it was expensive to have him, and I thought…I need to get that horse back. I need to get a job. But I didn’t like school at all. I was quite dyslexic, so I struggled with anything that would represent a real job. Then I was watching TV, and there’s a show in England called Star For A Night. I was watching it and I thought…people do that for a job. I can do that (laughs). I loved music so much, and I imagined singing to thousands of people. So I got on the show, and from that point on everything went crazy. I guessed people liked it.
DK: Your first album, The Soul Sessions, had cover songs, but these weren’t the famous hits by Aretha Franklin and other stars. They were more obscure soul songs. So how did you pick those songs to cover?
Stone: Can you imagine the label allowing a 14-year-old girl to pick her own songs? That did not happen (laughs). But they were right about picking the songs. I was signed by Steve Greenberg (CEO of S-Curve Records) and he is obsessed with soul music and passionate about it.
I had started to write songs, and I thought in order to be a credible singer, I wanted to write my own songs. But Steve Greenberg, who’d already signed me, said, “No, you’re not gonna do that. You’re gonna do covers now.” And I thought, if I just did covers then people would think that I was a karaoke singer. So there was this massive argument between my parents and him and my management. And I was 13. So in the end it was not our choice. As it turned out, Steve Greenberg was right. Every move that he made was right, and it taught me so much. Because I started to sing songs that were beautifully crafted, some of which I’d never heard before. Also. my mentor was (legendary R&B singer) Betty Wright. He put me with her, and she helped me to understand what is behind soul music. She even taught me techniques were really helpful to me, because all I had was my rawness. And the band they put me with was old school soul musicians.
Here’s the video of Joss Stone’s early hit, “Super Duper Love.”
DK: I read the credits for your second and third albums (Mind, Body & Soul and Introducing Joss Stone), and you wrote most of the songs. So how did you make the transition to writing your songs for your albums?
Stone: I had written songs before we cut The Soul Sessions, so thank God these songs were already there. And Steve helped me get together with writers, and I was learning. Working with these writers was such a lovely experience, because as I look back as an adult, I realize that I was a kid, and they were looking after me. They were encouraging me and showing me the way. And I love to write songs—it’s one of my favorite things in the world. I love it…it’s such a therapeutic thing to do.