About Joss Stone
She was born Joscelyn Eve Stoker on April 11, 1987, in Dover, Kent, U.K., into the wealthy household of Wendy and Richard Stoker, who had made his fortune as a dried fruit importer. Her parents raised her as a vegetarian. When Joscelyn was eight, the family moved to a much more rural Ashill, in Devon. She took to music at an early age, singing along with her parents' Anita Baker and Tracy Chapman records and gravitating to older American R&B after she saw a TV ad for an Aretha Franklin greatest hits collection. She struggled in school - exacerbated by mild dyslexia - but enjoyed musical extracurricular activities, singing the Donna Summer hit "On the Radio" in an early school talent show. At 12, the BBC show "Star for a Night" (BBC1, 1999-2001) piqued her interest and she won a slot on the show's "Junior" version, performing "On the Radio" and Franklin's "A Natural Woman."
The national platform netted her a professional manager, who advised the name-change to keep her family removed from "the biz," and scored her an opportunity to meet Steve Greenberg, head of EMI America's sub-label, S-Curve, who signed her. Greenberg introduced Stone to veteran soul singer Betty Wright, who in only a few days in Miami, produced Stone's debut album, The Soul Sessions, in which she covered a handful of obscure R&B classics. U.K. newspaper The Guardian echoed most media reactions to her when it reported "a white, Devonian teenager . . . has somehow been endowed with the pipes of a black American 25 years her senior." The late 2003 release nabbed her a nomination for the U.K.'s Mercury Music Prize, plus a then-high-profile appearance on a VH1 "Divas Live" special. Along the way, Stone also established the live-show quirk of performing barefoot, which would become her trademark. A huge help in raising her profile was the fact that A-list actor Tom Cruise became a huge fan of the new artist, talking her up every change he got on talk shows or attending her concerts.
Stone left school and moved to Los Angeles with her mother, who assumed her managerial duties as Stone burned through a number of contentious showbiz professionals. Though she publicly said Wright was "like my second mum," she later revealed she disliked the label's direction of her work, including her second album, Mind, Body & Soul in 2004. She contributed some writing to the sophomore album, and it performed well in the American pay-for-play system, going platinum and winning both the Best Female and Best Urban Act at the Brit Awards. The single "You Had Me" also made the Top 10 on the U.K. pop chart, and both album and single earned Grammy Awards nominations in 2005, including one for Best New Artist. She also snared a high-profile opening slot for the Rolling Stones tour. But Stone later admitted to bridling at the poppier sound she felt forced on her, and her discontent would manifest in more than just behind-the-scenes grumbling.
At age 17, she moved in with her boyfriend Beau Dozier, a 25-year-old producer and son of Motown songwriting legend Lamont Dozier, both of whom had collaborated on Mind, Body and Soul. Given that the age-of-consent in California was 18, it set off a firestorm among "family values" proponents in the U.S. and British tabloids which became increasingly enamored of Stone's coming-of-age foibles. Lamont Dozier deflected speculation claiming the family had welcomed Stone into their home via a more chaperone-type situation, but the controversy reportedly lost Stone a lucrative ad campaign for The Gap retail chain. Though her Gap ads did not continue, the company refuted the dustup had ended the relationship. Stone has also appeared in PETA ads. The Dozier relationship would end within a couple years.
Stone changed her appearance, swapping her devil-may-care blond locks, peasant skirts and bare feet for streaked red hair and miniskirts, and faced a tide of criticism in her home nation over a widely panned performance at BRIT Awards in which she had seemingly shed her native accent and, by some estimates - including former business associates - gone "diva." Stone claimed to have taken on more of her own managerial responsibility, moved to EMI's Virgin Records unit, executive-produced her next record, the tellingly titled 2007 release Introducing Joss Stone, and recorded a cover of "Family Affair" with John Legend and Van Hunt for a Sly & the Family Stone tribute album, which netted them a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group in 2007.
By the end 2008, she had sold some 10 million albums and was worth around £5 million, though Introducing Joss Stone had underperformed and she publicly said she wanted to bolt EMI. She also reportedly had flare-ups with her family, angered fans by showing up late for shows, and continued sniping with the press. Although she had made her acting debut in 2006 playing a witch in the poorly reviewed fantasy flick "Eragon," she took a prestigious step into the thespian realm by joining the cast of Showtime's period drama, "The Tudors," curiously playing Anne of Cleves, the German noblewoman ostensibly wed to Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who annuls the marriage after finding her too "plain." She made her debut in the series' third season in 2009, the same year that saw the release of her fourth album, Colour Me Free.