Singer/songwriter Joss Stone is on a mission “to explore and understand the universal language of music in every country on the planet.” This mission is the driving force behind her long-standing Total World Tour which has taken her to several countries across various continents. The free-spirited Brit has a running #JSTWT vlog series showcasing local talent for each city she visits. Recently, she visited Nigeria and had a jam session with native daughter Nneka. Backed by Lagos-based Sweet Sound Band, the two singers gave a spirited rendition of “Babylon” from Nneka’s 2015 My Fairy Tales album.
Part protest anthem, part empowering chant, the original “Babylon” delivers its powerful message as an upbeat tune with a funky undercurrent. Musically, the #JSTWT video arrangement maintains the intensity of the original, but Sweet Sound drops the funk in favor of a more indigenous sound that incorporates horns and varied percussive elements (a glass bottle, for example). Set against a poverty-ridden backdrop, the visuals provide added poignancy to the lyrics. Nneka’s vocals quaver in empathic sincerity and resolute defiance as she sings to her people. To her credit, Joss never tries to over-sing or outshine her partner, a subtle display of solidarity rather than appropriation. Instead, she employs the perfect blend of freedom and restraint throughout her soulful verse and ad-libs.
Scroll down to witness Joss Stone and Nneka’s beautiful rendition of “Babylon,” then check out Ms. Stone’s YouTube channel for more #JSTWT performances with global artists in their native cities. Joss will be hitting the festival circuit in the U.S. and Canada this summer, so be sure to visit her website and follow her on Twitter to find out when she’ll be coming to a city near you. Her Water For Your Soul album is available via iTunes as is Nneka’s My Fairy Tales.