English singer/songwriter Joss Stone.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A decade ago, Joss Stone, the celebrated British singer/songwriter with the voice of gold, found herself performing atop a mountain in Japan. Despite the fact that it was a cloudy and rainy day outside, she couldn’t help but notice the beauty of the country.
“How did I get here? How did a girl from England end up on a mountain on the other side of the world?” she recalls thinking to herself, in a phone conversation last week with The Jerusalem Post.
In that moment Stone said that she realized music was the key, and the seed of a crazy idea was born – the desire to perform in as many countries around the world as would have her.
It took a while to come to fruition. The then-19-year-old Stone, who released her first album, Soul Sessions, at age 16, has since sold millions of albums worldwide, collaborated with the likes of Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart in the on-off Superheavy and even nabbed herself a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals that she shares with John Legend and Van Hunt.
But her global journey idea stayed with her, and in April 2014, the Total World Tour kicked off with shows already performed in Morocco, Dubai, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Australia and New Zealand. Each show varies in size and venue, ranging from a stadium concert in Sydney to jam session on a Myanmar beach. Adding to the milestones will be Stone’s debut show in Israel, taking place on July 25 at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv.
“The whole idea for this tour has nothing to do with money,” Stone said. “It’s about linking people together and connecting everybody.
It’s about not treating one country like it’s more important than another country.”
Known for her timeless soulful voice and barefoot performances, Stone is namedropped among the heirs to the soul and r&b legacy passed down from giants like Dusty Springfield and Aretha Franklin. But despite her accomplishments and accompanying accolades, she still has a hard time seeing herself as a professional singer.
“Some days I feel professional and some days I don’t,” she said. “Just because a lot of people are watching me does not mean that I’m a pro, it means a lot of people are watching me.
That’s all it is.”
Regarding her maiden visit to Israel, Stone said that she prefers to form her own opinion about a country once she gets there and not base it on anything she’s heard beforehand.
“The government, and the men and women that are in power across our planet, sometimes they do messed up things, sometimes they do useful things,” she said. “But you can’t judge the people because of those guys. I’m not going to do it.”
One of Stone’s greatest pleasures while traveling is meeting new people and learning from them. Last week while in Finland, Stone met with a musician who performed for her in Finnish, an experience that Stone described as “amazing.” Though Stone has worked with Jagger, Legend and Lauryn Hill, it is her collaborations with the locals that she meets on tour that she cherishes the most.
“What I love is collaborating with people who I have never heard of before,” Stone said.
“The people that I have no idea what they do and I get lost in their music. Learning something different and learning something new, that’s what I like. That’s my thing.”
As a part of her tour, Stone has not only been collaborating with local musicians, but with causes as well, including Sentebale, Prince Harry’s charity that provides psychosocial support and education to African children in vulnerable situations, many of whom have been affected by HIV/AIDS. For Stone giving back to communities is not so much a choice as it is a way of life.
“If you’re not deliberately, consciously trying to be positive, to do good things for others, if you’re not trying to be that person, what are you doing?” Stone questioned. “Are you just breathing in and out? Eating food? Walking around the planet doing nothing? There is no point in being here if you’re not going to give back.”
As for what’s to come in the future, Stone prefers to live in the now and focus on her happiness and the happiness of others.
“I want to make people happy with my music and whatever action I make,” she said.
“That’s what I want to do and that’s my life mission.”