Thu, Mar 02, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Interview: Spreading soulful vibes and happiness

English soul singer Joss Stone — who will perform for the first time in Taiwan this month — speaks to the Taipei Times about travel, overcoming ignorance and giving back to the global community

By Dana Ter  /  Staff reporter

Grammy award-winner Joss Stone will perform at ATT Show Box in Taipei on March 16.

Photo courtesy of Stone’d Records

The idea to visit all 193 UN-registered countries — as well as Taiwan — came to soul singer Joss Stone when she was in Japan, a country which fascinated her because the culture was “completely and utterly” different from that of the UK.

“I thought, ‘is there a reason why we can’t spread music freely to every country?’” Stone tells the Taipei Times in a phone interview from the UK. The only reason not to is purely financial. But tours don’t have to be profitable. It can just be a good thing to do with your time.”

So far, the 29-year-old Grammy award-winner from the UK has visited 96 countries, and when she completes her journey touring 193 countries, she will be the first singer in the world to achieve that feat. In addition to performing a gig in each country, Stone also gives back to a local charity and does a musical collaboration with a local artist which she posts on her Facebook page. Although the plans for the local charity and artist collaboration for the Taiwan segment have yet to be finalized, fans can check her Facebook page for updates.

Stone, who has been in the music industry since the age of 13 and whose music is a blend of soul, R&B and reggae, will perform songs from her seventh studio album, Water for Your Soul, in Taipei, at ATT Showbox, on March 16.

THE LANGUAGE OF MUSIC

“I feel a need to get out and explore — that is a part of my personality,” Stone says.

When she’s on vacation — which is rare — Stone prefers to hire a jeep and drive around without a plan, but being on tour has made her life far more structured.

“The tour is a very different type of exploration, because the idea behind it is that I don’t want to leave anyone out. It’s like righting a wrong,” she says.

Concert Notes

What: Joss Stone, Total World Tour

Where: ATT Show Box, 7F, 12 Songshou Rd, Taipei City (台北市松壽路12號7樓)

When: March 16 at 8pm

Admission: Tickets are NT$2,200 to NT$3,600, available through kham.com.tw

On the net: www.facebook.com/jossstone


While Stone sometimes introduces the meaning behind the song in the collaboration video as she did in Gabon and Macedonia, other times, she and the other artists simply launch into the melody. In Malawi, Stone belts happy and upbeat tunes outside of a straw hut with Gasper Nali, a local musician who plays a guitar that he made himself.

Stone sings in the native language of the country in each collaboration she does, sometimes with the help of her notebook where she writes notes on pronunciation.

“Pop radio believes that there is one thing that works, that there is one formula and you stick to it,” Stone says. “Real music is not simple and nobody can sing along but it still gives good feelings.”

While performing at a refugee camp in Djibouti, Stone met people from Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen, all of whom spoke different languages and came from vastly different backgrounds but who she was still able to communicate with through music.

She jokes: “I’ve never landed in a country and had someone say to me, ‘I’m sorry madam, there’s no music here, people don’t make noises here.”

‘SPREADING GOODNESS’

Stone says a common misconception that people have of her tour is that she’s setting out to change the world or find herself.

The singer’s goals have been far less lofty: “I think we’re just having a lovely time. I feel like my opinion on the world and my attitude towards people has just been reinforced. People are good — that’s the attitude that I had when I began and that’s the attitude that I still have.”

In Panama, Stone worked with Hear the World Foundation, a non-profit that distributes free hearing aids to children with hearing loss and helps cover the cost of operations and hearing implants for those who need them.

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