In the 19th century, American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called music “the universal language of mankind.” He had no idea how right he was – a recent study concluded that music can have a similar effect on people from completely different cultures.
Recently I did an interview for a podcast called “Doing Jazz” ( Click Here to Listen!) where the host, Lorens Chuno, interviews professional jazz musicians and artists every week about what inspires them, their artistic processes, and what they’re working on currently. I was delighted to be involved, (I love talking, I love podcasts, PLS put me on your podcast about anything) and happy that I just happened to be in the city and able to record. We talked about my first EP, how I was slowly recording a second one but didn’t feel the “rush” to release it anytime soon, how I loved traveling and touring, and using music to create community. He off-handedly asked me about Joss Stone, who is an artist I was influenced by whilst recording my first EP, and I said “ya know, I’m not sure what she’s up to, but Im going to catch up on her career, because she was always inspiring as a vocalist.”
I did, and I’m so glad for it. I was honestly shook, amazed, and inspired to see what she has been doing since Soul Sessions came out in 2012. She has been working on something called Project Mama Earth, and the mission statement is “to explore and understand the universal language of music on every country on the planet.”
Pretty powerful stuff.
In 2014, she embarked on her “TOTAL world tour” which included the normal cities a big-time artist like her would play, but also included smaller places. Places that popular western artists never reach, places like Morocco, Lesotho, Swaziland, Burma, Lebanon, Syria, etc. Her aim is to play a concert in every country on the planet. In each country Joss aims to collaborate with local homegrown musicians, playing indigenous music as well as her own songs. She makes documentary-style music videos, jamming with tribes in Africa, mixing her western-style blues with indigenous tribe’s styles. Here’s a video from the streets of Lagos, Nigeria, the song title is “Babylon” and the artist is Nneka, you can find more of her music on her website nneckaworld.com (and you should, it’s a jam)
In the sidebar on youtube, you should be able to access a ton of videos Joss Stone has made in with local artists in different countries. These videos are so inspiring to me. In my career working as a vocalist for CCL, I’ve had the honor of working with musicians and entertainers from many different countries. I have learned so much from playing and working alongside musicians from Australia, Argentina, Ireland, England, Mexico, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and a ton more. Having these relationships helped me book my small-scale European singer/songwriter tour last year, which expanded my horizons and redefined music in my eyes. I went to jam sessions in places where I didn’t speak the language, but could still communicate with the musicians and play efficiently, because music is universal. You don’t have to speak.
I hope to do 1000% more of this in 2018, and I admire JS so much for her efforts on a much larger scale than mine. Her new album “Mama Earth” is available everywhere now and you should check it out.
In other news, Joss Stone, if you’re reading, call me up, I’d love to jam. JS and SJ, 2018 world tour? Sounds pretty good to me 😉
Go jam with a musician today!