New Soul Sensation: Joss Stone
HOMETOWN: Devon, England
•Why you should know her: Don't let the age, the Britney blondeness or the British accent fool you: On her first album, The Soul Sessions, she growls and whoops her way through 10 R & B classics with a voice that has stunned critics with its Aretha Franklin power.
•In the beginning: Born Joscelyn Stoker, she had no training other than school choir and early exposure to R & B. "When I was 10, I saw Aretha on television and loved her music," says Stone, the third of four siblings. "In a way, soul found me."
•Big break: In 2001 she was picked for a British TV talent contest after sending in a tape of herself singing "A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like)"—and was made over quite unnaturally. "It's the most embarrassing thing, man," she says. "I wanted my hair a little wavy, but they turned it into this supercurly hairdo." Still, she won, got an agent and went to New York City to record her album. "We kid her and ask which legendary soul singer is she the reincarnation of," says Steve Greenberg, the S-Curve Records president who signed her.
•Brush with fame: Lenny Kravitz's daughter Zoë, 14, came to a recent gig. "She was singing along to the words, and then she rang her dad and I spoke to him!" says Stone. "He said, 'I really like your music, I want to write with you, what about tomorrow?' And I was like, I can't! I have to leave.' It was terrible!"
•Where she's headed: Touring (with mom Wendy as chaperone) and finishing an album of her own songs, due in 2004. School? Dropped out at 15. "I used to like lunchtime," she says, "but that's about it."