The New Paper
March 5, 2016
It must be intimidating to serenade Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Joss Stone.
But that's exactly what School of the Arts student Sophia Joe, 16, did for the English soul singer yesterday at the press conference for her Singapore International Jazz Festival (Sing Jazz) act at the ArtScience Museum.
Miss Joe took the microphone to ask Stone her thoughts on vegetarianism, then asked: "Can I sing for you?"
She confidently belted out a soulful rendition of Stone's hit song, Teardrops, accompanied by her mentor and manager, Ms Michelle Poh, on the keyboard.
Visibly moved, Stone, 28,even sang along with Miss Joe.
"Thank you so much, that was beautiful and you sang it so well," Stone told Miss Joe warmly before giving her a hug.
"No one ever sings for me, that's never happened at a press conference before."
Stone will be one of the Sing Jazz headline acts tonight at the Event Plaza in Marina Bay Sands. (Go to www.sing-jazz.com for the full schedule and ticketing info.)
"It was really cool to sing for Joss," Miss Joe told The New Paper.
"I've always enjoyed her songs.
"She was so nice. I teared up a little when she hugged me because I got emotional. Because I'm vegan and she's vegetarian, I feel like we have a special connection."
Ms Poh, who also performs under the name Michelle SgP, said she approached the Sing Jazz organisers to pitch them the idea of the spontaneous performance.
"I thought it would be good exposure for Sophia since she has a good voice for soul," she told TNP.
Asked if she would get the chance to meet Stone again, Miss Joe said there were no plans but she was looking forward to catching her idol at tonight's show.
At her press conference, Stone chatted freely, sharing her plans to try a vegetarian steamboat and learn Chinese opera in Singapore. She also joked about the "weird metal trees" at Gardens by the Bay.
But she turned serious when TNP asked her opinion on the ongoing sexual assault and harassment lawsuit filed by US singer Kesha against producer Dr Luke.
Stone was especially upset that Kesha was not allowed by her label, Sony Music, to terminate her contractual relationship with Dr Luke.
"I don't care what your contract says or whether it was signed in blood. No one can make you work with someone who has abused you," she said in a separate interview.
"I'm sure she has enough money to say 'I don't need it, take it back.'"
Stone, who said she has been abused by people in the music industry, though not sexually, famously left her label, EMI, in 2010.
"It was the craziest thing I ever did, giving back $9 million to EMI," she said.
"Everyone thought I was completely off my rocker. But it gave me the freedom to make the kind of music I wanted.
"Fewer people hear (my music) now but I'm much happier. It's the best decision I ever made."
As for Kesha, Stone has this advice: "I pray to God that Kesha and every other woman who feels intimidated or scared by a man know they can walk away. She doesn't have to stay for the contract.
"I believe Kesha can do it. She performs for thousands of people, she's strong enough to do anything."