He took beatings for his art, in the boxing ring and out on the streets. He sang for his life in East End football pubs, delved into the dirt of hedonism and regret for inspiration and needed a message from beyond the grave to keep him on the musical path. It’s been a battle, but Joseph J Jones was always fated to fight his way to stardom.
It was, after all, in his blood. The 25-year-old soul survivor’s grandad on his mother’s side was a jazz guitarist who played for the BBC in the age of swing and his grandmother on his father’s side was a concert pianist who would fill his childhood home in the Essex enclave of Hornchurch with music. Not that their technical skills rubbed off on the young Joseph – his life as the biggest and best new voice in 21st Century soul only began at fourteen, when a classmate tricked him into singing in front of his first audience.
“We were in music class, all messing around, playing with the keys,” he explains, “and Sinatra was blaring out so I just started mimicking him, messing around. My mate went ‘Oh, you’ve got a really good voice!’ and I went ‘nah’. He tricked me into singing in front of the whole class. There was this other room in the music class and he was telling people to come and listen when I was just messing around. You had to do your project, in Year 9, you had to record it and I just thought I’d sing. The music teacher heard, and then she wanted me to sing in halls. It spurred from there, my mate egging me on to sing.”