English singer, songwriter and actress Joscelyn Eve Stoker, better known as Joss Stone, has been obsessed with soul music since she was a little girl. By the time she was in her early teens she had begun to intuitively hone her now trademark gravelly-but-lustrous vocals by singing along to Aretha’s Franklin’s Greatest Hits.
At age 12, Stone chose to become a singer by default. In an interview with The Herald, she explained that she thought she might like to become a veterinarian or midwife. "But then I realised that meant seven years at school. I couldn't do that so I decided to be a singer."
She secured a record deal at the age of 15, and in 2003 recorded her star-making debut album, The Soul Sessions. A stunning exercise in vocal poise, passion and power, the album was well received globally and charted in the Top 20 both in the UK and in the US, garnering some of her best reviews for many years.
Following her critically acclaimed arrival on the music scene in 2003 (which preceded the plethora of soul-inspired female artists that came along in her wake), things took off for Stone in an enormous way. Her second record, 2004’s Mind Body & Soul, capitalised on The Soul Sessions’ commercial momentum and critical adoration, and earned Stone three Grammy nominations, including one for Best New Artist. It also spawned a self-penned UK Top 10 single, “You Had Me”, and earned her Two Brit Awards that same year. Her third album, 2007’s Introducing Joss Stone, was a more independent, less packaged effort, on which Stone further showcased her songwriting abilities, and revealed the singer had truly been embraced by the American audience when it crashed into the US charts at No.2, marking the highest debut ever for a female British solo artist on the Billboard charts.