“The next big thing.” It’s a phrase that Joss Stone has heard quite a few times during the past year. Since S-Curve Records released the British singer’s “The Soul Sessions,” an EP of classic soul covers, in 2003, the critical acclaim has come fast and furious.
However, with her full-length debut, “Mind Body & Soul” (released Sept. 27 on S-Curve/Relentless/Virgin in the United Kingdom and S-Curve/Virgin in the rest of the world; and Sept. 28 on S-Curve/EMI in the United States), the 17-year-old Stone seems unfazed by all the hype.
“It’s weird,” the Devon, England, native says, “because I got a text [message] the other day saying that [“The Soul Sessions”] had sold 2 million [albums worldwide], and I said, ‘Oh, cool,’ and then it was done,” she continues. “I realized later how ungrateful that sounded. I had to slap myself, and said, ‘Jocelyn, that’s ridiculous!’ But I have never done an album before or done it in a different way, so it’s just the way that it has been.”
Stateside, “The Soul Sessions” has sold more than 610,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It also served to introduce Stone prior to the release of “Mind Body & Soul,” he debut full-length album.
“‘Soul Sessions’ gave her an advantage,” S-Curve president Steve Greenberg says. “She didn’t have to come out of nowhere.
“People know who she is and that she can sing. She avoided the novelty and cookie-cutter comparisons. We put her in a different position than most 17-year-old singers.”
With “The Soul Sessions” having set the table, Stone was already prepared with her follow-up act.
“I actually started writing ‘Mind Body & Soul’ when I was 14,” Stone says. “I wrote a couple of songs after ‘Soul Sessions,’ but we had to rerecord everything because my voice was changing so much [as I got older].”
“Mind Body & Soul” features production and songwriting credits from the Roots’ Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, Betty Wright, Lamont and Beau Dozier, Nile Rodgers, Salaam Remi and Commissioner Gordon, among others.
Stone says working with the Dozier brothers on “Spoiled” was an equally special recording. “That was so great. That’s my favorite song on the whole album, and I don’t usually like my stuff. They’re the best.”
While Stone may not always be a fan of her material, others certainly are. First single “You Had Me” is building airplay across the country. For the week ending Sept. 19, it received spins on 41 stations. Adult R&B stations have started playing “Spoiled.”
Internationally, Stone will promote the album in Europe through year’s end. She will tour Japan and Australia starting in January. U.S. tour plans have not yet taken shape.
S-Curve will release in November a concert DVD of her New York appearance earlier this year at Irving Plaza.
For Stone, “Mind Body & Soul” has been a labor of love down to the title of the album.
“We were trying to think of titles, and Steve and I could not agree on anything,” she says. “We had so many ideas but none of them worked … Steve e-mailed me the title ‘Mind Body & Soul.’
“When I thought about it, it was the natural follow-up to ‘Soul Sessions,'” Stone adds. “With that album, I was just giving you part of me, because those weren’t my songs. That was just half of me. Someone’s mind, body and soul is all of them, and this is all of me.”
Excerpted from the Oct. 2, 2004, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers.
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