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Biography from VH1.com

English singer Joss Stone was just 16 when she emerged on the pop/rock scene in 2003. Ready to take on the pop domination of Britney and Christina with a sound wise beyond her teenage years, Stone positioned herself among the more established and credible artists (Norah Jones, Jill Scott, Nikka Costa) reigning adult alternative pop/rock. Born Joscelyn Eve Stoker in 1987, the sun-kissed blonde darling grew up listening to American soul and R&B. Aretha Franklin was a favorite and in time, Stone realized that she possessed an impressive throaty vocal style with both depth and emotion, much like her idols. In 2002, Stone took a chance. She left her family home in Devon, England (also home to Coldplay's Chris Martin) for an audition in New York City. Stone wowed S-Curve CEO Steve Greenberg with her rendition of Donna Summer's "On the Radio," and landed herself a deal. R&B/soul pioneer Betty Wright joined Stone for her first recording, becoming an instant mentor and friend to the impressionable girl with big dreams. Vocalist Angie Stone and the Roots also assisted Stone in the studio in 2003 for what became The Soul Sessions EP. A riveting set of 1970s classics by the likes of Laura Lee and Bettye Swann, as well as tracks by Wright and Franklin, The Soul Sessions EP was accentuated by fellow Miami soul musicians Benny Latimore, Timmy Thomas, and Little Beaver. S-Curve couldn't wait to tell the world about their one-of-a-kind starlet with an old soul, therefore Stone hurriedly crafted this neo-soul gem in just four days. In early 2004, Stone introduced herself to the MTV generation with the funky strut of "Fell in Love with a Boy," which was a rework of the White Stripes hit "Fell in Love with a Girl." The Soul Sessions was a huge success, selling over two million copies. Mind, Body & Soul was released in 2004, again from S-Curve Records, and its 14 tracks featured 12 that were written or co-written by Stone.

Biography from RollingStone.com

Growing up in England on a steady diet of classic American soul, it wasn't long before Joss Stone realized she had the same gutsy, impassioned vocal style as many of her idols. Leaving home at 16, she landed in New York and auditioned for S-Curve Records, which quickly signed her. The British teen headed into a Miami studio with Southern soul stalwart Betty Wright, who produced/mentored/cajoled Stone's sessions to fruition. Stone's debut, the aptly titled Soul Sessions, was released in late 2003 to much critical praise. Her breakthrough single, a stunning version of the White Stripes' "Fell in Love With a Girl" (except she called it "Fell in Love With a Boy") helped her cultivate an audience and broadened her fan base. Stone's sophomore album, Mind, Body & Soul, was released in September 2004.

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The Soul Sessions

01. The Chokin' Kind

02. Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin on Me?)

03. Fell in Love With a Boy

04. Victim of a Foolish Heart

05. Dirty Man

06. Some Kind of Wonderful

07. I've Fallen in Love With You

08. I Had a Dream

09. All the King's Horses

10. For the Love of You Pts. 1&2


Mind, Body & Soul

01. Right to be Wrong

02. Jet Lag

03. You Had Me

04. Spoiled

05. Don't Cha Wanna Ride

06. Less is More

07. Security

08. Young at Heart

09. Snakes and Ladders

10. Understand

11. Don't Know How

12. Torn and Tattered

13. Killing Time

14. Sleep like a Child

15. Daniel*


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Young Voice, Old Soul

Billy Johnson Jr - Launch.com

Who would've thought the latest neo-soul sensation would be a golden-haired, 16-year-old lass from rural Devon, England? But that just happens to be the case. Joss Stone isn't your typical R&B diva. Besides the obvious factors that set her apart--her pale coloring, her Britishness, her unexpectedly funky slow-jam remake of the White Stripes' "Fell In Love With A Girl"--Joss's love of vintage soul music and her relationships with collaborators like '70s diva Betty Wright, Miami soul musician Latimore, and the Roots also separate her from similarly blonde pop tarts like Britney and Jessica.

Joss emerged last year with The Soul Sessions, a collection of classic soul covers (Carla Thomas's "I've Fallen In Love With You," Aretha Franklin's "All The King's Horses," the Isley Brothers' "For The Love Of You") that immediately established her as a major mega-talent. A nomination for Britain's prestigious Mercury Music Prize and a coveted spot on a VH1 Divas Live special (both much-deserved) followed.

Obviously, in a world of cookie-cutter pop stars like the aforementioned Britney, an original voice like Joss's is truly needed right now. Thank heavens Joss is about to release her first album of original material, Mind, Body & Soul--featuring the feisty kiss-off single, "You Had Me"--and is poised to become a bona fide superstar.

Joss Stone recently came to LAUNCH's studios, when she and urban editor Billy Johnson Jr. chatted about her love of old soul, breaking the color barrier, and singing from the heart. A full transcript of their interview follows...

LAUNCH: When you were first trying to get a record deal, was your age an issue?

JOSS: It was a little difficult. Like, when we went to the record companies, I was like, 14. So there's a little 14-year-old white girl saying, "Yeah, I want to sing soul." And they're like, "All right, goodbye." [laughs] It was weird. Like, this one guy, he said something real racist, and I had never been involved in that. Where I live, nobody's racist. Like, I didn't even know what racism was. And then when you come out to London and then America, they go, "Why are you singing black music?" What music? I'm just singing music. So I went to this one guy--I'm like 14--and he said, "All right, the first thing I'm going to say is this: I would never sign a little white girl with a black girl's voice." Like, hmm, is that a compliment? I didn't know what to say, except, "OK, well, I'll see you later." Like, how weird is that? How can you even define that? It was weird, and I didn't know what to do. There are strange people, people who get kind of intimidated by change and they're not really good with that because, I mean, what's working [in the music industry] is what's working, you know? You just go with it until it runs real dry, and then somebody makes a big change because they're brave enough.

LAUNCH: So were you discouraged by that?

JOSS: No, I kind of brushed it off. I'm like, "OK, all right--next!" You know, I didn't think too much about it.

LAUNCH: Was it your mom who exposed you to all this soul music?

JOSS: It was kind of me--like, my parents listen to a lot of different types of music. There's a mixture of music in my house. But I would listen to my parents' music. Then when I got old enough to ask for it, I was watching a TV thing, an advert for Aretha Franklin's greatest hits. I had no idea who she was. I remember having to write down her name because I didn't know who she was. Now, how ridiculous is that? So, yeah, I got that. That was like my first CD because I asked for it for Christmas, and then I'm like, "Wow!"

LAUNCH: Did you feel like an oddball with the other kids in the neighborhood because you were listening to this old soul music?

JOSS: Um, you know what? Where I live there's lots of different types of music going on. But when I was younger, like very young--like 8, 9, 10--they were all into, like, whatever is in the charts. As they got older, they were into their own thing; a lot of my friends are into real old-school hip-hop, and my friend Lucy is into, like, '60s rock 'n' roll and stuff like that. And that's all the kind of stuff I like. So they did come into their own, but I guess when I was younger, it was a little weird. They're like, "Huh?" They come up to my house, and I'm like, "Listen to this, listen to this!"--and they're so bored, like, "Can we go out now?"

LAUNCH: You mention old-school hip-hop. I love that. How does old-school hip-hop influence your work?

JOSS: Well, I said to [collaborator and '70s soul veteran] Betty [Wright], because she sorted out my band for me and stuff, and she produces my vocals and we write songs together, "You know that 'Rapper's Delight' thing? Like, I would like to just sing that. I was singing along to it the other day, and it sounded kind of cool. I think we should do like a remake of it, but singing it." She was like, "Yeah, yeah. Sounds really cool!" But then when we were in rehearsals, she was just like, "What do we do in this song?" So then it's just like a little snippet, and I think it's better than doing the whole song. So we're just going to put it into a single, which is really cool. I wish that we recorded it like that, that we just play it live like that now. I like it.

LAUNCH: Now, let's talk about Betty Wright. Did you know who she was before you started to work with her?

JOSS: No. When I first heard of Betty Wright, I didn't know her name. I was like, "I don't know who that is." And then Steve Greenberg, who signed me, always played me her stuff all the time because he's trying to educate me in soul because I'm really not an expert. And he played me her singles. I'm like, "I know all of these tracks!" And then he said, "Yeah, you're going to write with her." Are you kidding me? I went to Miami, and [hit songwriter] Desmond Child is there because they're good friends, and me and her write a song. And yeah, it was weird, because I had never seen her on TV; I had heard her name, but I didn't know her because that was way before my time. But her songs are everywhere; people just don't know it. There's a lot of artists just like that--like, very popular songs, where you don't remember their name, but you know the track. I love her. She's great.

LAUNCH: What did it do for you to work so closely with her, and how did she work with you in terms of vocal direction?

JOSS: It was cool. It was a little scary working with her--like, basically if we're doing a track, she's vocally producing it. I'm in a booth singing down two or three times, like all the way, and then you just pick it up, put it together, and at the end of it, she'll probably comp that. And if there's any crap, it's like, "Let's just do it over again." She gives me ideas when I'm stuck on something; she'll be like, "Why don't you do it like this?" We work off of each other because she will sing something, and then I'll sing it and kind of change it a little bit because, you know, our voices are different. But you learn from each other, so it was really cool.

LAUNCH: You've got an amazing ability to add your own stuff to a song. Where does that come from?

JOSS: I have no idea. I don't really like to be like anybody else. People compare me to a lot of great people just because they can't think of anything else. [laughs] Like, they say Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin...I'm like, "Please, don't ever!" If somebody compares me to Aretha Franklin and someone reads it in a magazine and they haven't heard me--like, "Oh yeah, this girl sounds like Aretha, I have to get her album!"--they're going to get my album, and they're going to be like, "OK, whatever," and just chuck it in a bin. Please don't say that! Like, it's a huge compliment, but it's scary. I'm nothing like her, though I wish I was. But that's the thing: If you try and copy somebody--Aretha, for example--you're just going to go right down because you can't. You just can't do that. So you have to find something by yourself. You just have to be inspired by lots and lots of different people and make it into one, you know? That's kind of what I'm trying to do. I just sing. Like, there isn't really much to it!

LAUNCH: Tell me who you worked with on your new album.

JOSS: Betty Wright, Latimore, Timmy Thomas, Little Beaver. I love Little Beaver. He's so cute! He does, like, this little wiggle when he plays. He's so cute. And his people, they're really nice. They're really inspiring people. Like, you walk into a room, and they're just nice and not arrogant or bigheaded in any way. They're just a wicked [british slang for "excellent"] bunch of people. When I first met them, I must have been like 14, 15. So I'm like this little girl to them. And they kind of look after me. It's nice. Like they care. It's not just about like getting a check at the end of the day--which sometimes people do get a little bit like that, which is a shame. It's about music, and they know that, and they've lived that, you know? And they're just people at the end of the day.

LAUNCH: The songs from Mind, Body & Soul have that kind of old-school throwback vibe. Was that your intention?

JOSS: I guess, yeah. On this one I started to write my own album, and avoided those old sessions. Those old sessions were never meant to be my album. But I always wanted to do that old-school thing because I remember sitting in my kitchen with my mother listening to--I can't remember what it was exactly--but I, like, got real angry for a second, like, "Why the hell don't people make music like this? This is the best! People just don't understand!" It was stupid, but to me at that point, it was like the best sound I'd ever heard, and then I turn on MTV and there was some ridiculous thing on. I'm like, if you have a chance, if you have a record deal, if you have people that are going to play for you, if you can write songs, then do something like this and organize some people that have something else, like a different vibe. Like, I love all music, but at that point, I'm like, "You idiots!" [laughs] Just bring it back because R&B and reggae and stuff like that was kind of collecting dust. Like, it wasn't completely lost, but kind of collecting dust. I think we just should blow the dust off and bring it back. Like Outkast--they bring the old and the new and they mix it together. I just love that! So on my album, I was, to tell you the truth, just a little girl--I guess I still am in a way--but I was no writer. I just wanted to sing. I was just like, "I don't know what I'm doing. I want to sing this music. Help me out." My manager suggested to me that I should write, co-write with these guys Connor Reeve and Jonathan Shorten, and I was so nervous. But that's when I wrote "Jet Lag." I was just like, "Oh my God!" Like, I used to write poetry when I was like 9, in primary school, so I'm not really a songwriter, but I just kind of pretend to be and try. I'm making it up, throwing things in there. So you're going through that process and you learn. You just have to sit back and watch and learn. And those people, you take what you can from them, take what you can from people like Betty Wright, people like Aretha Franklin--just listening to her, you know--and then you mix it into one and hopefully you get a good record!

LAUNCH: How does it feel to get so much respect and positive feedback from the established artists you've worked with?

JOSS: It's scary! All these artists and labels. It's crazy, but really, really sweet. Maybe they just feel sorry for me and want to help me out. [laughs] I have no idea. I think it's really, really cute. Those people are people I've watched for a long time, so to record with the Roots--oh my God! Like when Steve suggested "Fell In Love With A Boy," I was like, "OK, it's kind of strange--like, how we going to make this into a soul song?" And Betty Wright and me, we're just laughing, like, "Are you serious?" He's like, "The Roots and Angie Stone will come in." And I'm like, "Oh my God! I'll do anything! I love them!" They're great, so it's a huge compliment. It's scary, but it's huge.

LAUNCH: I understand you were in a talent show in high school. Did you do a song by Jackie Wilson?

JOSS: Jackie Wilson? No, I did Donna Summer's "On The Radio."

LAUNCH: Wasn't there a '50s-theme talent show that you did?

JOSS: That was a school play. I sang "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" I hope no one ever filmed it! It was just a school play, At The Hop, with all this '50s music, and my drama teacher knew I could sing a little bit, so he was like, "You have to sing this song." So basically, I sang "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" and "He's So Fine." It was very, very funny.

LAUNCH: At that point, did it feel like you had found what you wanted to do?

JOSS: I don't know. You know, I was kind of shy in school. But when I got the chance to do stuff, I would take it. I would be scared of taking it. I hated school. I hated the academic side of things. It just exhausted me. I hated getting up at 7 o'clock in the morning. But when you get a chance to do something that you love, you go take it whether you're scared or not. But I was never like "that girl." Like in every school, there's that girl that's like the performer. That wasn't me. It was just, "All right, I'll sing a little bit," and then I went.

LAUNCH: Would you like to work with Outkast or any other contemporary artists you haven't collaborated with yet?

JOSS: Yeah, I'd love to work with Outkast! I really love them; they're really, really great. I love what they do. They're not scared of change. I hate when people are scared to do something different. And now they did do something different, and everyone is trying to be them! So I think they're great. And people like Lauryn Hill. I love Lauryn Hill. And India.Arie. I'd love to work with those kind of people. They're just great. And Erykah Badu. I love that kind of stuff.

LAUNCH: Do you see yourself as a neo-soul performer? Do you fit in there?

JOSS: I hope so. I'd like to fit in that. I try not to be pigeonholed into anything, but I know I'm going to be. And if I had to be, it would be in that kind of corner. But I just want to try and touch on everything as much as I can. I hope that I don't have, like, a certain type of audience. I hate that people just target a certain audience--like, they go to certain radio stations because that's for that audience. I'm like, go to all of them, you know? Music is for everybody to share. It doesn't belong to a certain type of people. It's just there. It's a God-given thing, you know. And everyone can hear, so everyone should have the chance.

LAUNCH: Tell me about where you grew up.

JOSS: I was born in Dover, and my whole family live in Dover. I was brought up there until I was, like, 8. I love Dover. And then I moved to Devon, which is the complete opposite of Dover. It's like, in the sticks. There's, like, three houses within two miles. But it's really nice; there were little villages and people were really cool there. And like I said, there's no fashions with their music. There's different groups of people, different types of music. There's not like one big thing that everyone has to like--like everyone has to like hip-hop, or everyone has to like pop. It's not like that. People are really into whatever sounds good.

LAUNCH: So the radio stations don't just play a single format?

JOSS: Yeah. You know what? There's a million, so many radio stations here [in America], it's ridiculous. But in England, it's pretty much Radio 1, Radio 2...do they have Radio 3? I don't even know. I don't think they do. Radio 4 is the news. And then there's Gemini and a couple of different things, but there's not too many stations.

LAUNCH: What was it like recording The Soul Sessions in two days?

JOSS: Two days? This is so funny. This always gets made, like, shorter and shorter and shorter. Firstly, people said it was six days, then four, and now it's two! No. This is what happened. I'll tell you the story: So for The Soul Sessions, we were in Miami. I can't remember if it took four days or six days. I think we did six songs. But we rehearsed, of course, before that. And then we went to New York, and I did the two acoustic tracks, like we did "Living For The Love Of You," "Dirty Man," and they were the last ones I did. And then we had two days with the Roots, and then they were, like, mixing and stuff. So I was kind of done within, like, eight to 10 days. So it was quick, but not two days!

LAUNCH: I like how you don't over-sing...

JOSS: I try not to.

LAUNCH: So you don't feel like you have to prove anything about your voice?

JOSS: Yeah, sometimes. I don't know...like, my personality kind of comes into it, because I'm a little shy when it comes to things like that. I'm scared of messing up. I might be able to do it, but I try not to because I might mess up, you know? So I'll try to just sing the song. People want to just listen to the song, so sing the song! I don't even think about running during these adlibs and stuff. I just sing it. Like, when you're singing and you're really feeling it, you're not thinking about anything except what the story is. Otherwise, it's soulless. I guess you just have to feel it. If I don't feel like doing a run, it doesn't come out. If I do, I just let it go.

LAUNCH: You seem so strongly connected to your music, like you've lived it. Where does that come from?

JOSS: I don't know. I guess I picked the songs that I sang on The Soul Sessions because I had a feeling about them. Like, I wouldn't sing anything that didn't mean anything to me, because that's just singing words and notes. And the songs that I write obviously have things that I can sing about. I think about certain people, think about certain things. I'm a very emotional person, so even if it is a song that somebody else wrote, well, I know that person and I knew what went on, and it will upset me or make me happy, you know? So I just kind of put that through. I try to.

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Precious Stone


Off stage, she talks like a typical teenager; in performance, she sings with a passion and a conviction that are almost uncanny. Craig McLean meets Joss Stone, the 17-year-old soul singer from Devon with the world at her feet

Joss Stone is an ordinary teenager. She hangs out with friends, chats with them on the phone. One, who's a bit older, keeps an eye out for her, asks after her emotional wellbeing, proffers career advice. When she was looking for new management a little while back, he offered to check out any candidates. Recently, she went round to his place. Her mum and her friend Amy came too. They got in a Chinese takeaway, then went to the cinema. But since his name is Tom Cruise, it was probably a private screening.

"It is weird," concedes Joss Stone, that she, a school-age girl from Devon, is friends with the most famous actor in the world. Cruise got in touch after being bowled over by her debut album, The Soul Sessions, last year's collection of covers that was meant to act as a low-key introduction to her vocal talents but has gone on to sell 2.5 million copies worldwide.

"But he's just a guy. It's like a huge compliment, 'cos he is at the top-top-top of his tree. He's lovely. He's just a normal guy. He's a dad. His kids love him. They're like 10, 11, 12 – that's the point when you start to get pissed off with your dad, but they love him."

For a moment, Stone reverts to what she is: a 17-year-old child, gushing, enthusiastic, giggly. She may have spent much of the past two years in the US, recording and touring, and indubitably she is a golden-voiced and beautiful singer who has established herself as a hugely successful new artist.

But, in many other respects, she's still a child. Little wonder, she says, that Cruise is looking out for her. "He doesn't want anyone to hurt me, because he knows I'm just starting. He's like, if you ever need anything, just call me up. He's a lovely, lovely person. That's all it is. And he's really good at what he does."

Stone's astonishingly sophisticated, gutsy, soulful voice can have this effect on people. People such as Mick Jagger, who concluded his recent Abbey Road recording session with Stone on his knees before her, a theatrical finale to their recording of songs for the soundtrack of the remake of Alfie that will star Jude Law.

Other musical legends have been similarly overwhelmed by Stone's talents, notably songwriter Lamont Dozier, of Motown hitmakers Holland/Dozier/Holland. He's one of several stellar contributors to her first "proper" album, Mind, Body and Soul. Dozier's son Beau also succumbed – he is now Stone's boyfriend.

In her few years, Stone has come a long way from the West Country village of Ashill. Today she's in New York, sitting in a trendy hotel for a rare one-on-one interview; tomorrow it's Los Angeles, to take part in a tribute to Quincy Jones.

In 1999, aged 12, and using her given name of Joscelyn Stoker, she sent an audition tape to pre-Pop Idol talent show, Star For a Night. "I wasn't really thinking that I was going to do it," she says. "I didn't even know a whole song – I sang half of Amazing Grace, half of Jesus Loves Me, half of This Little Light of Mine."

When it came to the audition, she had more problems. She had planned to sing Carole King's Natural Woman. "I've been listening to that song forever, but I forgot the whole thing. The people at the audition had to tell me the first line."

A pause, and an embarrassed admission, which also serves to explain why her time at school was so hateful, and why she was happy to leave straight after her GCSEs: "I forget a lot of stuff. I'm not stupid, but I am dyslexic. I don't remember the words to my own songs!"

Stone passed the audition and, singing Donna Summer's On the Radio, won the show. News of her abilities reached Steve Greenberg, an American record company executive. He flew her to New York to audition for him in February 2002.

"I hadn't heard her sing at that point, because she didn't have any demo tracks," recalls Greenberg. "So in the studio we downloaded some karaoke tracks off the internet and with no preparation she sang Midnight Train to Georgia and (Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay. And she just floored me. At one point I was doubled over laughing, it was so unbelievable that she could sing like that."

He recognised that this was raw vocal talent of an improbably vintage hue, and signed her to his S-Curve imprint. Cleverly avoiding the warbling histrionics and pneumatic pop that would come to characterise later UK talent-show alumni, he took his then-adolescent charge out of the British commercial bearpit and plugged her into the old-school world of Miami and its '70s soul heyday.

She was placed under the tutelage of veteran singer and producer Betty Wright and, accompanied by a bevy of experienced session players, recorded a series of covers. Her way with wrenching ballads such as The Chokin' Kind and Victim of a Foolish Heart showed that here was a viscerally affecting singer in the tradition of Dusty Springfield.

Then there was the name change: she didn't want to do it, she says, gloriously off-message; "they" made her. But, in the end, it helped her with her adolescent embarrassment and shyness.

"I can't be Joss Stoker when I'm singing, because if I was, I'd stand by the mike, I'd have my hair right over my face like this." She sweeps her long hair over her face. For added protection, she would keep her eyes shut.

"I used to do that, and everyone loved it – 'This girl is so little and cute.' But I'm not little any more," she says emphatically. "You have to grow with it. And be with the audience and have fun with them."

The night before my interview with Stone, I watched her launch Mind, Body and Soul with a show at New York's Irving Plaza that was also being filmed for a DVD. The "character" of Joss Stone was there during the songs: flicking wrists, wiggling and wriggling, emoting wildly, singing passionately, performing – as is her hippyish wont – barefoot.

But between numbers, Joss Stoker, the gauche West Country teenager, was back on display. She giggled and prattled away, at times looking mortified that the enthusiastic applause was all for her.

In many ways, though, Joss Stone is all grown up now. Buoyed by the power that comes of selling so many records, she knows when to put her foot down – she won't mime, and refused to wear a dress for the TV cameras at the Irving Plaza show, sticking with jeans.

She wants to cut back on her schedule, to protect her voice: she's husky from over-exertion today, and had to endure an antibiotics "shot" in her bottom to get through last night's gig.

Musically, she has also advanced. Mind, Body and Soul, which she considers her "proper" debut, is a convincing, if overlong, modern soul album. It features several Stone co-writes, with help from the likes of Portishead singer and fellow Devonian Beth Gibbons.

So how can a teenage Brit, and a white one at that, evoke such emotion and soul? "Who says soul has only one colour?" say Stone, quite reasonably.

A lot of soul music heavyweights have concurred. Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson have both sung with, and been amazed by, her. As well as the Quincy Jones tribute, she was picked to sing at a concert in honour of James Brown.

Talents such as Chic's Nile Rodgers, Angie Stone and ?uestlove of the Roots wouldn't put their credibility on the line if they thought Stone was just a cleverly marketed poppet.

On the big stages of the Glastonbury Festival in June, and in the small club atmosphere of Irving Plaza, Stone was a revelation, a supernaturally gifted performer who can feel and even inhabit a song, summoning up an intensity that vocalists twice, even three times her age are pushed to match. When her talent fully matures, the sky's the limit.

"People forget what it was like to be young," she says. "The stuff I'm expressing now is for the first time: a heartbreak, falling in love, travelling around, seeing the world and seeing how ****ed up it is. It's shocking to me. And people who are 50 say, 'Yeah it sucks, but this has happened to me a couple of times.' But for me it's like, I want to change the world!"

Unlike most teenagers, however, Stone is close to the levers of power. She's met President Bush twice now, most recently at the "Christmas in Washington" concert.

"We were chatting away," she says, "and I'm like, 'Hey, what's up? How's it going, being president?' And he said, 'It's great!' And he put his hand on my shoulder and said [sober, statesmanlike voice], 'And when I'm done, there will be peace in the world.' And I'm like [sceptical teenager face], `Are you for real?' It was so funny."

She laughs wildly.

"It's just cheese. He's not cut out to be the president," says Joss Stone with the moral certainty and sagacity of teenagers the world over. "He reminded me of somebody I lived next door to in Devon. He's like a farmer."

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