You Had Me at Joss Stone: Spring of Culture's about to bloom with British artist
Joss Stone is ready to blossom in Bahrain's Spring of Culture. (Image: Facebook/ Harry Stoker)
Soulful songbird Joss Stone will be touching down in Bahrain shortly to tick another country off her global check-list as part of an ambitious plan to perform in every nation during her Total World Tour.
She has earned numerous awards and accolades, including two BRIT Awards and one Grammy Award out of five nominations and will take to the stage of Arad Fort as part of the 10th Spring Of Culture on April 10, the day before her 28th birthday.
“The tour is going great and we have now played 41 countries,” she told Gulf Weekly with 155 to go. “It’s been a whirlwind like most tours … never stopping for a breath. But this time it’s a little bit different as I like to try to visit a charity or a good cause in each place to get a feel of the people and the place and hopefully spread a good and positive word.
“Also, I like to seek out the music of the land. So we look for a fellow artist to collaborate with. This is always a wonderful experience for me, of course, and everyone-else involved. Hopefully the people that are watching on Facebook and jossstone.com – fingers crossed, they are enjoying our trip too.”
The singer also told GulfWeekly how she still suffers from the trauma of learning how two strangers had set out on a mission to chop off her head and dump her body in a river in a foiled plot to kill and rob her.
Throughout her career, Joss, born Joscelyn Eve Stoker but better known by her stage name, has sold 14 million albums worldwide, establishing herself as one of the best-selling artists of her time. Her first three albums sold over 2,722,000 copies in the US alone, while her first two albums sold more than two million copies in the UK.
Unlike, many other visiting artistes to the kingdom’s shores, the singer will not be packing in a busy schedule of gigs across the Gulf States. It will be her first trip here. She will be waking up on April 11 in Bahrain and flying to Turkey for a week on holiday to celebrate her birthday.
“Bahrain is a one-off for us, meaning there are no gigs either side of it,” she explained. “As we have just spent six weeks away in South America we are all a bit tired but just couldn’t pass up the chance to come to Bahrain, so I am rehearsing a band especially for this gig in Bahrain, then we’re on recoup time after that for a bit.
“Later this year we will be playing a few gigs in Central America then it’s promo time for the new record Water for your Soul.”
Joss came up with the idea of the global tour more than six years ago but getting booking agents to develop the idea proved the ‘most difficult challenge of the whole thing’.
“It seemed that no booking agency was up for the challenge and didn’t really want to book gigs that weren’t particularly lucrative,” she explained. “So, needless to say, we have moved on to a more passionate team. Now it’s finally happening.
“There are many reasons this tour is important to me, at the top of the list is ... no country or group of people is more important than another. How can one say they have completed a world tour when they haven’t been to every country in the world? It’s an extreme claim to make. I hope that one day I will be able to make it. When will it finish? I don’t know. It will take as long as it takes, I guess.”
Joss has been obsessed with soul music since she was a little girl. By the time she was in her early teens she had begun to intuitively hone her now trademark gravelly-but-lustrous vocals by singing along to Aretha’s Franklin’s greatest hits. She began pursuing a singing career at 13, securing a record deal at 15, and recording her star-making debut album, The Soul Sessions, which was released in 2003.
Each gig is varying in size along the way – from a stadium concert in Sydney to an acoustic jamming session on one of Burma’s unknown beaches and the kingdom will be another part of what she has described as a ‘truly amazing journey of discovery’ and ‘one hell of a ride’ and ‘a mission to explore and understand the universal language of music in every country on the planet’.
She said: “I hope everyone has a lovely time at the show. I hope to bring love and light in your world for a moment. I’m very excited to see Bahrain. I just hope for laughter and music and good feeling no matter what we’re doing.”
According to friends, if Joss wants to do something badly enough she gets it done, no matter what the obstacles. You need to be a tough little cookie to survive in the cut-throat music industry, and she’s had to cope with her fair share of off-stage drama too during her short life.
Two men were convicted of trying to kill and rob her. Kevin Liverpool and Junior Bradshaw were found guilty of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to rob by a jury after a three-week trial.
The court heard the singer was targeted in an attempt to get over £1 million (BD560,077) from her.
The duo gained evidence of one of her former properties by studying a video she made for TV and printing off a Google Street Map. They travelled to the address in a car crammed with a samurai sword, knives, bags and gloves.
Joss revealed she used to sleep at home with her doors unlocked until police revealed the plan to chop off her head and dump her body in a river.
She told jurors: “I had an alarm but I didn’t really turn it on much or I didn’t really have a lock on my door – which I should have.
“I’ve lived in Devon for a very long time and nobody really shuts their door. Now I do obviously – I lock my door and shut my windows.”
On June 13, 2011, the day of their arrest, Joss was at home in Devon. She said: “The police came round about 12 o’clock and told me somebody was trying to kidnap me.
“Then they came back later and said: ‘no, no – they were trying to kill you’. Apart from that it was a nice day.”
She told GulfWeekly that the incident still preys on her mind. “Well it was a bit freaky, and yes, sometimes, I do think there is a murderer under my bed or behind the closet. It just makes me a bit more nervous than I was. But I was a bit of a ‘wuss’ before anyway. But it’s all good. I have extra dogs now, so can’t be bad.”
The jail sentences of the two men who plotted to rob and kill her were reduced by the appeal court last year in the UK.
Liverpool was originally jailed for life and told he would have to spend a minimum of 10 years and eight months before he could be considered for parole. The appeal court reduced his minimum term to six and a half years. Bradshaw, described in court as the ‘foot soldier’, had his 18-year jail term reduced to 10 years.
In 2012, her net worth was estimated to be £10 million (BD5.6million), making her the fifth richest British musician under 30, but rather than lead a closeted rich life, Joss works tirelessly to assist good causes and learn about important humanitarian and environmental issues.
For example, a visit to Lesotho saw an amazing collaboration with British royal Prince Harry’s charity, Sentebale, founded to help vulnerable children and young people in the Sub-Saharan African country. She also recorded No Man’s Land, the official Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal single with guitarist Jeff Beck.
* Don’t miss Joss Stone live in Bahrain. For tickets priced from BD15 visit www.springofculture.org/events/joss-stone/
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