British singer Joss Stone was only 16 years old when she hit the mainstream in 2003, armed with a powerful voice and a vintage, soul-based sound. Smartly aligning herself with a number of soul legends on her early records, Stone earned a devoted audience at home and abroad, first for her reinterpretations of classic soul songs (as heard on The Soul Sessions) and then, on future albums, for her songwriting chops and powerful delivery.
Born Joscelyn Eve Stoker in 1987, Stone grew up mimicking the sounds of American soul and R&B icons, particularly throaty vocalists like Aretha Franklin. Her voice developed quickly, a maturation that earned her a first-place finish at a BBC singing competition in 2001. Stone was only 14 at the time, but a pair of local producers recognized her talent and contacted S-Curve CEO Steve Greenberg, who flew her to New York City for an audition. Stone impressed Greenberg with her rendition of Donna Summer's "On the Radio," and a record deal was inked between both parties. With her parents' permission, she dropped out of school, changed her last name, and primed herself for a career in entertainment.
R&B/soul pioneer Betty Wright joined Stone for her first recording, becoming an instant mentor to the singer while also serving as her co-producer and backup vocalist. Little Beaver, Timmy Thomas, Angie Stone, and the Roots also assisted Stone during those studio sessions, creating songs that would soon comprise the track list for her 2003 debut album, The Soul Sessions. A set of soul classics by the likes of Laura Lee, Bettye Swann, Betty Wright, and Aretha Franklin, The Soul Sessions was crafted in just four days, hurried along by an eager label that couldn't wait to tell the world about its neo-soul starlet. The album was ultimately a success, selling over 500,000 copies in America and near