Joss Stone’s Soul Affair in Eritrea

About Eritrea - Art & Sport

“Love me….love me….take me...” she made the whole cinema sing along. She also made every single person in the audience stand up and dance along with her. It was the famous Joss Stone; she was in Eritrea.

For those of you who don’t know her, Joscelyn Eve Stoker is one of the biggest names in the music world. She rose to fame at just thirteen after submitting an audition tape for the BBC talent show called You make me feel like a natural woman. She was told that she was too young to sing the song.  “Now I know why”, Joss explained just before performing the song after many years at Cinema Asmara on January 23, 2018.


Jocelyn changed her stage name to Joss Stone to keep her family away from the media attention, and also because her mother thought she needed a more catching stage name.  Joss’s dream of becoming a superstar happened without her having to put much effort; she was a natural. After leaving the audience speechless in the competition at the age of 13, she continued to work on her first album Soul Session which blew up the UK and US billboards in September 2003. The famous singer and actress has enjoyed many nominations and awards for her first album which was also certified Gold in the US. The Soul Session sold over two million copies worldwide which made the superstar recognized all over the world.

With a mission to explore and understand the universal language of music in every country on the planet, this superstar started her total world tour in 2014. Despite her busy schedule, Joss has visited and performed a collaboration songs in local languages with local musicians in over 100 countries, including Morocco, Australia, Swaziland, and, now, for the 136th round Joss is Eritrea.

The concert  and Joss’s coming to Eritrea was organized in collaboration of Eritrea’s commission of Culture and Sport with the Eritrean Sports and Culture Commission and the British Embassy in Eritrea. In the evening hours of Tuesday January 23, Boba band and Elham took the stage at Cinema Asmara next to Joss. A collaboration that blew off the audience. Elham, performed a legendary song by a legendary musician in the history of Eritrea, the late Yemane Gebremichael, aka Barya, ‘Kemey’leki’ which was wonderfully staged and left everyone in awe. Elham sang her heart out alongside the mostly traditional instruments and beats of Boba.

Following the amazing performance came Joss’s crew preparing the guitars and mic, and surprisingly her guitarist started taking off his shoes and socks on the stage which made everyone wonder what he was doing. Shortly after, Joss came to the stage barefoot as well.  Another thing that the audience didn’t know about Joss Stone was that she is famous for performing shoeless, as many call her “the white Aretha Franklin”. This free spirited singer seemed rather shy at first but not for long. She started talking to the audience even in the middle of her songs. It was like she was talking to every individual personally as the audience started answering back even though she didn’t get to hear them. She started by making them hum for her song and then they all started to sing along. They all sang with her making every moment of the concert worthwhile.

Mind, Body, Soul is Joss’s yet another album which has gained her much success and respect. Joss calls this second album her real debut. The album was once again certified Gold in the US where it was the No.1 hit in the UK billboards in 2004. Her beautiful voice went around the world and was heard on many big shows and stages. She was not to stop at any point.

Dancing freely on the stage at Teatro Asmara, she connected and bonded with her audience. And yes she did make the whole audience stand up, applaud and dance around to one of her songs.   That is one of the many things her fans are crazy about, her ability to connect and create a fun time. She even took the time to learn how to say ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you’ in Tigrigna, even though it took a little while for her to understand it. She just thought it is important to be prepared, “You never know what could happen”, she explained when she finally learned to say ‘I love you’.

The famous singer is also known for the love she has for reggae music. Hanging around the reggae royalty such as Damien Marely has influenced her in an enormous way. She has recorded for a Marley solo project. Even though she didn’t speak the patois, Damien and his crew gave her the confidence to get in to reggae. It is amazing to listen to Joss sing in many styles and do it exceedingly well.

Joss’s visit to Eritrea has kept the social media busy during the 48 hours of her stay. On the 24th of January, Joss also went to Durfo and performed with a local band of youngsters called Boba and a shining Eritrean singer, Elham Mohammed. Joss Stone, Boba band and Elham went to the amazingly green Durfo town for a joint collaboration song for Joss Stone’s worldwide tour project where they both performed ‘Kemey’leki’ song in the local language Tigrigna.

Another special appointment at the school of the blind, Abraha Bahta, sure did put Stone in the hearts of Eritreans. It trended as ‘the not-for-show side of Joss Stone’. Surely, not only a talented artist but also one with a big heart.

Joss also visited the Eritrean Music Association to meet some of Eritrean artists. At the music association she was introduced to Eritrea’s traditional music heritage.

The young success, Joss Stone, has sold over 12 million albums worldwide. She’s also had the privilege of being nominated for many awards including the Brit Awards and Grammy Awards. At 17, Joss was voted Best British Female Solo Artist and British Urban Artist.

Water for Your Soul is her seventh album was written and demoed before her total world tour. However, she had to rethink about the record as she started to travel the world. She says she found a different kind of energy to add to it. Joss plans to include different types of beats from around the world to her album. This album is the outcome of all her travels. Joss’s collaboration with the Eritrean Boba Band and Elham Mohammed is now going to be added on her album list.

Most of the Eritrean audience might have heard several broadcasts of Joss’s songs on local radios but never knew much about her. This trip has now changed literally everything as her contagious presence captivated the hearts of many Eritreans.