While her unconventional ways haven’t always elicited a favourable response from the listening public, the multi-platinum selling singer has a voice so powerful it can quiet any storm.
Stepping onto stage barefoot and sipping tea between songs, Stone embodies the ultimate free spirit.
“This is who I am, take it or leave it,” she says.
Offstage, the songstress is your typical girl next door. Wearing comfy slacks and a t-shirt and make-up free, Stone says, “I just couldn’t be bothered to do my hair everyday. Putting on make-up is part of my job – the most pointless part. People come to see me sing, not how I look. I understand that it’s all coupled together, but when I can, I prefer a more natural look. It requires less effort. Besides, if you don’t do it all the time, it makes it that much more fun when you do.”
Despite being one of the five richest British musicians under 30 (her fortune was estimated at £10 million in 2012), Devon girl Stone still prefers a quiet night indoors at her country home (the house she bought from her parents after they split up some years ago), taking a hot bath or watching a movie on the couch, while warming up by the fire with her four-legged friends. What with its cluster of outbuildings and adjoining land, there has always been sufficient space for family pets to run free.
“We’ve always had animals around the house,” she says.
“Dogs, cats, rabbits, you name it. As a little girl, I wanted to be a vet, but music took over and now it takes up all of my time.”
Stone’s latest addition is Mr Shneebly, a corn snake. Not one to cuddle up on the couch, Shneebly occupies a separate room in the house, isolated from Stone’s boyfriend (no names mentioned). Ironically, it was her boyfriend who bought her the snake.
“I’ve always seen snakes in the pet shop and thought they were cute,” she insists.
“They intrigued me and I wanted one, but my boyfriend would always say no. Eventually he felt bad and got me one for Christmas, but he doesn’t want to talk or even see the snake.”
When asked if having a snake in the house creeps her out, she says, “Not at all. He has his own cage. I actually feel sorry for him in that cage. What does freak me out though, is feeding him. I’m a vegetarian, but I feed the dogs dog food and the cat cat food, none of which has ever been a problem. Snakes on the other hand, need a frozen mouse. That’s the worst. He’s not so cute when eating.”
Since Stone spends a lot of time on the road touring, she says, “I am lucky to have friends who look after the animals when I’m away. I stay close by to my mum and brother and they are always happy to help.”
As part of her worldwide tour, Stone will be visiting South Africa for one night only this evening. She has sold over 14 million albums worldwide and has earned numerous awards and accolades, including two Brit Awards and one Grammy Award out of five nominations.
“I am looking forward to learning more about your musicians,” she says.
“I’ve heard some of Zahara’s stuff and she’s incredibly talented. Music is the best way to learn about someone’s culture.”