Why British pop star Joss Stone is coming to Kigali

Award winning English singer, songwriter and actress Joss Stone (Joscelyn Eve Stoker) is slated to perform in Kigali next month. The concert at the Kigali Marriot Hotel is part of her Total World Tour project, in which the singer hopes to visit all 196 UN listed countries for performances, collaborations and networking with local musicians in the respective countries.
Joss Stone.
Joss Stone.

Award winning English singer, songwriter and actress Joss Stone (Joscelyn Eve Stoker) is slated to perform in Kigali next month. The concert at the Kigali Marriot Hotel is part of her Total World Tour project, in which the singer hopes to visit all 196 UN listed countries for performances, collaborations and networking with local musicians in the respective countries.

AFROGROOV, a local creative company is in charge of bringing the British star to Kigali.

 

In 2014, Stone decided to undertake an ambitious mission; one to redefine the concept of “world tour” as we have come to know it. Her idea was of a world tour that is just that –a worldwide tour, as opposed to the modern-day world tours that take place in a handful of choice cities in the developed world.

 

Already she has been to more than a handful of countries, meeting and performing with some of the top bands in each: Nigeria, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Djibouti, Sudan, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya.

 

She has also been to Iceland, Estonia, Ukraine, Armenia, Macedonia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Paraguay, South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho, among others.

The singer is under no illusions about the amount of time and effort that will go into her endeavor, and has revealed that it will be several years before she calls it a wrap. Her overall motivation is to break a record when she emerges out of it all –a Guinness World Record for an artist touring all the UN enlisted countries in the world.

Another reason she undertook the tour is precisely because people told her she would never pull it off. In a press statement she said:

“People told me that it couldn't be done and I don't like being told I can't do something because it's too difficult. And once I thought about it, I realised how unifying music can be and what a great message that would send out.”

DJ Eric Soul, the founder of AFROGROOV, which is behind Stone’s Kigali concert, reveals that the initial plan was to have the singer in Rwanda in November last year, but things did not work out then. Unfazed, he kept in contact with the singer until she finally gave it her nod.

“She noted that most artistes talk about World Tour but they never really go on a world tour. It’s a lie, it’s a myth because they only go to selected countries and selected cities and most of the time those are countries and cities in the developed world. She thinks that every country is equal and should therefore have the chance to experience good quality music and good melodies and good performances,” he explained.

For the countries she has visited so far, the singer has shot video clips of the various collaborations she has undertaken and posted them on Youtube. It will be the same script when she eventually sets foot in Kigali.

It is this kind of publicity that Rwandan musicians that will work with Joss Stone are eager to gain from. By press time, however, Eric Soul was still very tight-lipped on which Rwandan artists will be on the project.

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“Every where she goes she hooks up with local artists, learn their song and perform with them and also get to know what local organizations are doing for the betterment of the underprivileged so Total World Tour is like a three-fold mission; performances, collaboration and social work as well,” he explained.

Eric Soul is not new to this business of bringing this kind of artist, “who are very excellent in their delivery and music performances and considered heroes of sub culture –who are not mainstream artists.

In the last couple of years he has brought in artists as diverse as Freddie Masamba from Congo-Brazaville, Kezia Jones and Nneka from Nigeria, and Ticken Jah Fakoly from Ivory Coast.

“Why? Because it gives a more realistic image of the level of commitment and artistry in terms of how an artist can present him or herself,” he explains the choice of non-mainstream artists, and adds:

“Joss Stone is a very brave and courageous artist who managed to break away from the tight grip that the music industry had on her. She was discovered when she was 16 years old and managers, publicists, booking and marketing agents–all these really big business people were all around her so for the first three albums she was really doing what people told her to do and at some point she started to figure out what she wanted to do, and that’s what she’s doing. She decided to go on a world tour to the most remote parts of the world, on big stages and small stages.”

“I think this is very important for the city as well. As a city we are a little bit lagging behind in terms of leisure. Our leisure industry is still weak compared to our neighbors, but gradually Rwanda is being noticed. People come to live and work in Rwanda, but when it comes to leisure where do they go? There’s been a trend of people taking a plane and basically emigrating themselves for the weekend. So we need to bring a little vibrancy onto the scene, beautiful performances that inspire the next generation and generate revenue as well.”

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