Joscelyn Eve Stoker, better known as Joss Stone was born on April 11th, 1987, in Dover, England. Despite her young age, the singer has already released two chart-topping albums in the USA and the UK, and has received overwhelming amounts of critical acclaim from the world's most respected artists. Stone looks like just another one of the teen songstresses that are being turned over by the dozen by reality TV producers and the such. In tank tops, low-waisted jeans and coifed blonde hair, she looks a lot like Jessica Simpson or Britney Spears. Being a music lover and a great appreciator of musical talent, I decided to find out why everyone was getting so heated up over another seemingly disposable pop star. I listened to her latest album, Mind, Body and Soul.

Boy, was I surprised.

There's no way to go around it. Joss Stone sounds black. Not black as in Christina Aguilera-black or Jo Jo-black, but black as in an Aretha Franklin, Patti La Belle, Angie Stone, Whitney Houston and Gladys Knight kind of way. Stone has the kind of voice that you would imagine an experienced gospel or blues singer in their 50's would own. Stone has the kind of strong, fierce voice that can soar to amazing heights and come back down to a soft whisper, the kind of voice that most people are totally incapable of imitating. Stone has the kind of voice that oozes fluidity, self-assuredness and emotion. However, despite her amazing ability, Stone does not over-bend her notes (unlike, for example, Christina Aguilera), preferring to keep them simple, which in turn emphasizes the depth and organicity of her voice.

Joss Stone's first CD was Aretha Franklin's Greatest Hits that she had bought when she was twelve. It's been said that the CD inspired her to start singing. She soon started singing at school and local pubs, before entering herself in a talent search on BBC called "Star For A Night". There, she performed her rendition of Donna Summer's disco hit "On The Radio" and won. The victory resulted in hiring an agent and recording several demos including Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", which were then sent to the New York record label S-Curve. Stone was immediately signed up for an album, at just 14 years of age.

While Stone and a team of legendary soul artists and producers were working on her album, they decided to cover some old lesser-known soul classics, which were not meant to be released as a separate album. However, the president of S-Curve Records (who also co-produced the album) decided to release it separately. Completed in four days, The Soul Sessions was released in September 16th 2003. Although it received no hype in the beginning, the album managed to sell gold in the States alone during its first year of release. It has currently sold over 2 million copies worldwide. Stone's version of the White Stripes' song "Fell In Love With A Girl" (aptly changed to "Fell In Love With A Boy") received months and months of airplay on VH1 and MTV2. Joss Stone had already established herself as a force to reckon with even before her first proper album.

With a strong and dedicated fanbase established, Stone set out to finish the rest of her now sophomore album, named Mind, Body and Soul. The album features some legendary soul artists and producers, including Angie Stone and The Roots. The release date of Mind, Body and Soul was in September 2004, and it has already spawned two chart-topping singles, including "You Had Me" - a grooving mid-tempo track - and the new single "Spoiled" - a sultry bluesy song about lost love. In fact, there is some significant variety of music types exhibited in this album. However, there is one constant. From the somewhat rocky, funky riffs of "You Had Me" to serenely groovy "Jet Lag", from the laid-back dub rhythm of "Less Is More" to the beautiful lullaby "Sleep Like A Child", although all brilliantly played and produced, it is still Stone's awesome voice that ultimately makes all the difference. It's her voice that compulsively urges the listener to keep listening, frantically trying to find an imperfection, until the listener gives up, and upon hearing the closing song "Sleep Like A Child", admits defeat and is forever a fan.

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