It’s a good CD

Teen Singer Stone Exhibits Plenty of ‘Soul’
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) – For 16-year-old newcomer Joss Stone, the rules don’t apply.
Without the usual push at radio, the S-Curve Records artist’s debut EP, “The Soul Sessions,” has jumped from the bottom half of the Billboard 200 to No. 64 this week. The success is attributed to music video exposure and a unique marketing strategy.
S-Curve president Steve Greenberg, who executive- and co-produced the project, explains that releasing an EP before a full studio album opened doors that are usually closed to new artists.
“If you put out a regular studio album with a single to pop radio, the world is really going to judge her based on how the single does,” Greenberg says. “With ‘Sessions,’ we made a record that stood on its own, that clearly wasn’t made for the sole purpose of having hit singles.”
The singer’s collection of soul covers arrived in September 2003 and served as an introduction to the Devon, England, singer’s upcoming album of original material.
“I thought it was just going to be a word-of-mouth thing,” Stone recalls. “That was the idea — like an underground, five-dollar thing. It kind of turned into something completely different.”
Co-produced by soul veteran Betty Wright, the release is long for an EP, with 10 tracks. It is a foray into soul from the ’60s and ’70s with classics like the Isley Brothers’ “For the Love of You” and more obscure cuts like Carla Thomas’ “I’ve Fallen in Love With You.”
“We wanted to pick songs that she could do radically different from the original,” explains Greenberg, who recalls that the whole recording process took just four days. “We really tried not to do a karaoke record.”
Though it’s not every day that a teenage ingenue records with such veteran musicians as Timmy Thomas, Stone says, “I don’t really know any different. Everyone’s saying, ‘Oh, it must be weird being 16 and doing this,’ but I really have no idea what it’s like to be any older.”
Instead of a hit radio single, music TV channels MTV and VH1 picked up Stone’s version of the White Stripes’ “Fell in Love With a Girl” — renamed “Fell in Love With a Boy” — last month.
Since being added to video rotation, Stone has sold 31% of her 263,000-unit total in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Her label says the record has shipped 570,000 units.
“It zoomed for us. Sales tripled during the post-Grammy, Valentine’s Day period,” says Vince Szydlowski, senior director of product for Virgin Entertainment Group. He adds that the video airplay has been “phenomenal. Getting her in front of millions of viewers has certainly helped.” group merchandising manager Jeff Somers says that Stone jumped from No. 20 to No. 13 on its top-seller list in one day.
“With MTV and VH1 building her presence in the U.S., we’re seeing a resurgence in her popularity,” he says. “For us, she’s been popular since her release in September. Our customers tend to look for an artist that has something unique about them, and she certainly falls into that category.”
The video sparked TV appearances on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” “Last Call With Carson Daly” and a featured segment on MTV’s “Total Request Live.”
Stone also performed with Elton John, at the pop star’s request, during his annual Oscar bash with “In Style” Feb. 29.
Stone has performed showcases in Germany, France and Italy and will open for Sting at London’s Royal Albert Hall in May.
“I can’t wait to do that,” Stone says. “Royal Albert Hall is really posh, so it’s going to be funny — a bit of a laugh.”
Stone’s album of original material is slated to arrive in September. The singer says she has been writing the material for it since she was 14.