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Cirque Du Soleil
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Patricia Barber
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Julius Curcio
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Alligator Shoes
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"Come Alive"
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Rising Stars [Issue #5]
Joss Stone:
By Peter Vouras
The Soul Sessions (CD S-Curve)

The Soul Sessions, a collection of classic and obscure soul songs marks the debut of enfant terrible Joss Stone. This 16 year-old British import is causing quite a stir on this side of the pond with a voice that belies her age. It’s been described as "a gift from Heaven" from legendary singer Betty Wright who co-produced the album.

Hailing from the rural English town of Devon, Stone grew up listening to Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. At age 14 she auditioned for the BBC TV talent show Star For A Night singing "On The Radio" by Donna Summer. There she garnered the attention of London producers The Boilerhouse Boys who contacted Steve Greenberg, the founder and CEO of S-Curve Records. Known for discovering such acts as Hansen and Baja Men, Greenberg flew Stone to New York for an audition. Upon hearing her sing he immediately set up a deal for a contemporary album with Stone writing or co-writing most of the songs. One of the first people Greenberg contacted was Miami-based soul pioneer Betty Wright best known for her seventies hit "Clean Up Woman" with whom he wanted to co-produce the project with. They set out and first recorded a Carla Thomas song called "I've Fallen In Love With You." The song didn't seem to fit in to the concept they had planned but it gave them an idea. "…we thought we'd up the ante and have her record live in the studio with a real live r&b band, doing a whole set of classic and obscure soul songs,” says Greenberg. Re-uniting local musicians Little Beaver, Timmy Thomas and Benny Latimore, the nucleus of the Miami Soul Sound, Wright began the “Soul Session” recordings in the spring of 2003.

Stone then journeyed to Philadelphia where hip-hop artists The Roots helped back her up on a funky soul rendition of the White Stripes’ “Fell In Love With A Girl.” Singer Angie Stone guest stars this track.

Aside from a few recognizable tunes such as “Some Kind Of Wonderful” and the Isley Brothers, “For The Love Of You,” the album features mostly forgotten soul hits. Stone’s vocals leave an indelible print on these lost gems. There’s the rub. Her voice is still pretty green and at times it can sound like an “American Idol” performance. There has always been a fascination in this country with “white” artists who sing “black” music. From Elvis Presley to George Michael, white performers have often been perceived as exploiting the genre yet, on the other hand, being able to introduce it to a wider audience. Perhaps Joss Stone will be able to do just that. The songs on the album are worthy of a listen just to explore the nuances and intricacies of good old-fashioned r&b.

On her cover of the White Stripes song, Stone shines. It’s funky, bluesy, innovative and fresh. If her upcoming album is anything like this she will have the storied career the media machine has already begun to create for her.

The Soul Sessions

Joss Stone The Soul Sessions

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