For those immersed in the world of soul music, Joss Stone will be a household name. The British songstress rose to fame with her 2003 debut album The Soul Sessions and was quickly revered as one of the best voices in the UK.
With collaborations with some of music’s greatest heroes like Cyndi Lauper, Donna Summer, Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder, Damian Marley, Jeff Buck, Ringo Starr, James Brown and so many more under her belt,
In March 2014, Stone and her band set out on a mission to “bring loveliness in a form of music to every country on our planet”.
Stone was planning to perform in all 195 countries of the world.
As a devoted advocate for peace, Stone worked with countless charities and non-profits at each stop through The Joss Stone Foundation, from animal welfare groups to those providing protection and education to children left vulnerable in war-torn states. Stone received backlash from some who believed it was not appropriate to visit specific countries due to their political state and views.
She was quick to respond, “what we are trying to achieve whilst running from country to country on this total world tour is simply to spread love and joy through music. Excluding no one. I do not discriminate. I’m not trying to make political statements I am just trying to spread good feeling to everyone I can. I do not blame millions of individuals for what their government has done. I treat each person the same until given a direct reason not to. If we want to discount the people of countries that have done dreadful things then we would only have the Antarctic left.”
Not only this but she also aimed to collaborate with local artists on each step of the way. Perhaps the most notable collab happened in the front of a tour van in North Korea, an unlikely scene to imagine. Stone performed a duet with their two tour guides Ri So Hyang and Kang So Hyon, singing traditional Korean folk song ‘Arirang’. She later performed in a bar in Pyongyang and met with British Ambassador to North Korea Colin Crooks, who said “It was lovely to see Joss Stone yesterday in Pyongyang. A chance though to remind that we do, in fact, still advise UK citizens against all but essential travel to North Korea”.
Despite this, Joss still wholeheartedly encouraged people to visit, saying “Don’t let the media convince you that an entire country is off limits or that the people are unkind and scary, go have a look for yourself, you will be pleasantly surprised”.
The final destination on the tour, Iran, was to be reached earlier this month, however things didn’t go as planned. Joss knew she would not be able to put on a concert as it is currently illegal to do so as a woman, however authorities still didn’t believe they wouldn’t try and were put on a blacklist. In true Stone fashion, she was honest and open in taking to instagram to talk about her experience being questioned by airport authorities:
“They were so kind to us, at one point I started to question it. The question whirling around my head, were they just luring us into a false sense of security so we would walk into our jail cells quietly with out a drama? Nope, these people are genuinely nice people that felt bad that they couldn’t over ride the system.”
Despite not being able to jump over the very last hurdle, the Total World Tour was an incredible feat that is sure to go down in musical history. Joss touched so many lives and brought light to more people than almost any musician ever will, and we’re sure her impact will last for years to come.
You can head to her website jstotalworldtour.com to see pictures and read stories from every single step along the way. It’s easy to get lost in it!