Merry Christmas, Love by Joss Stone is now available
Joss, 35, was singing Christmas carols at the White House Christmas tree lighting ceremony just two days before this interview. “I met Joe Biden,” he tells me. “He had the biggest smile I’ve seen on a president so far.”
Joss once greeted George W. Bush with “Hey George, what’s up?” But she barely remembers meeting him now. “It was so long ago. Joe seemed to have a good vibe. They’re just people, like you and me.
He almost missed the ceremony in Washington DC. “We got in the car for a six minute ride and drove around town for an hour looking for the concert ticket and found it was only a block from our hotel. We could have walked it!”
You wouldn’t have known from the figure-hugging red dress she wore that night that English rose Joss had given birth to her son Shackleton just two months ago.
Or how difficult that birth had been. Stone needed an emergency C-section after her uterus ruptured during childbirth.
The perky Grammy winner has two children with her “perfect man” Cody DaLuz: daughter Violet Melissa will turn two next month. They are part of the reason she recorded Merry Christmas, Love, a soulful holiday album.
“I’ve wanted to make a Christmas album for years,” he says. “I really love this time of year and now that I have my babies, Christmas has become magical again. It’s the wonder of children that makes it more than just a party.
“So now I have Violet and Shack, I have years of magic to look forward to. Without them this record wouldn’t be as lovely, so I have them to thank.”
In a market flooded with reissues and cynical cash-ins, Merry Christmas, Love delivers veritable cookies fueled by gospel, joy, and enthusiasm.
Standout tracks include a gloriously moving version of Hark’s The Herald Angels Sing, a dreamy version of Winter Wonderland, and a lush Silent Night, warm enough to melt Scrooge’s icy exterior.
“These are songs that I have loved for years. In The Bleak Midwinter holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first songs I sang when I was a little girl.”
He wrote If You Believe, one of two original tracks, for his children inspired by the film Polar Express.
“I wanted to tell you a story that explains what is about to happen and how amazing it can be if you just believe.”
Joss recorded it in the middle of the Nashville summer. “Every time we went out, the sun would hit us in the face,” he laughs. “But all the studios were well prepared: They decorated the rooms with Christmas trees, oversized candy canes, and twinkling lights.”
It kept her in a good Christmas mood, especially since she was heavily pregnant with Shack. She “made singing more of a challenge, but doing him and the record at the same time made everything more magical.”
Joss, born in Kent and whose real name is Joscelyn Eve Stoker, has been making magic since her teens. She won the now forgotten BBC TV talent show Star For A Night at 14; two years later, she was packing New York clubs, being filmed by MTV and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
She was 5 foot 10 with golden braids and a voice that saw her quickly dubbed “the black Aretha”. quite interesting. However, Joss had no formal training. When she was little, she would sing Whitney Houston and Anita Baker records to her mother, Wendy, imitating her raspy voices.
At the age of 16, her debut album The Soul Sensations became a worldwide hit. In his fast-paced career, he found himself performing with such legends as James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart and Ringo Starr, and formed SuperHeavy with Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart and Damian Marley.
More best-selling albums followed, including Mind, Body & Soul, along with hits like You Had Me. But Joss believes that his greatest achievement was his Total World Tour. Between 2015 and 2019, he played in 200 countries and only passed out in Iran.
“When I arrived they told me that they had prohibited me from entering the country”: Iran prohibits women musicians from performing in public. “But the immigration people were lovely; They were so upset that they had to deport me.”
Joss credits his sons for his new album
When I ask her later about the unfulfilled ambitions, she replies: “Playing a concert in Iran.”
In Afghanistan, Joss woke up to the sound of an explosion and was told, “Oh, that was a car bomb, don’t worry about it.”
Don’t worry?!? “There were shots everywhere. If it happened in Devon, you’d be freaking out.”
Most of the countries were “incredible,” she says. “So many beautiful places and people; we visit charities in each location. In Peru there was a boy named Harry who could not hear or see. When we went to Panama, we met the Hear The World charity and managed to connect them.
“Now Harry can see and hear after years of living in total silence and darkness. That was one of the best things that happened on tour.”
Another was meeting former Marine Cody, 32, at a Belize airport in 2019. The connection was instant, love at first sight. The family currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, but Joss plans to move to Devon late next year, before Violet starts daycare.
Relocation is not a small challenge. Joss has rescue dogs, cats, and a large collection of crystals.
Home is the sprawling converted farmhouse in which he grew up. When her parents split up and decided to sell it, she bought it. She was 18 years old and she couldn’t bear to lose him.
His father, Richard, runs a fruit and nut import/export business. Mom Wendy, her original manager, used to rent guest houses on the property, one now converted into a studio.
Joss will spend this Christmas in Rhode Island with Cody’s family; his sister Lucy’s family is flying.
“It will be fun, a lot of singing and magic for the children. I have a feeling snow might be on the cards… We’re going to have an Air BnB so we can cook Christmas dinner.”
Generally optimistic, the star survived two terrible career low points: a legal battle with EMI in 2009 to free herself from her contract, costing her millions, and an evil plot in 2011 to kidnap and kill her, leading to imprisonment. of two men from Manchester.
Joss has only watched one England World Cup match so far: “I’ve been too busy singing Christmas songs but my dad keeps us up to date on our family WhatsApp group.
“I always support our team, cross my fingers and toes for the guys to kick ass…”
She is now focused on next year’s 20 Years Of Soul European tour. She is prone, she says, to “Spinal Tap moments, like getting lost backstage” in large auditoriums. “That still happens.”
Joss plays the London Palladium on March 7, 2023
Stone won The Masked Singer last year, but he won’t be taking on the ITV jungler any time soon.
“I loved being the soulful sausage,” he laughs. “She made us laugh so hard from start to finish. However, I think I have to give it up while I have the upper hand; no more crazy challenge shows for me. The sausage was the pinnacle.”
Joss loves his loyal fans. “They have always been a great support. I have jumped from one genre to another and they are with me. I really appreciate that. It is touching to go on stage with such encouragement and love.”
Despite being told by doctors that she can no longer “give birth naturally,” Joss still wants more children, either by C-section or by adoption.
“But in between we’ll tour and keep the music flowing,” he promises, adding cheerfully: “Merry Christmas everyone. Thanks for the support.”
- Merry Christmas, Love by Joss Stone is out now. Joss plays the London Palladium on the 7ththe March 2023. Tickets at Ticketmaster.
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