Rising Stars [Issue
The Soul Sessions
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. Its been described
as "a gift from Heaven" from legendary singer Betty Wright who co-produced
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'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. Stones vocals leave an indelible print on
these lost gems. Theres 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. Its 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