Soul legend Patti Labelle has hit out at critics of British singing sensation Joss Stone, insisting it's not her fault she sounds like a "big black woman".

The 18-year-old blonde's throaty voice has taken the music scene by storm and left many confused over how a petite white girl from England can have a vocal presence on a par with soul legends.

But LaBelle is a fan: "Joss Stone just happened to wake up one morning with all this soul that had to come out. So people better not be thinking it's a gimmick. It's for real.

"She was born like that. She didn't practise it. It just happened that she opened her mouth and a big black woman comes out. The girl can just sing."

20/07/2005 03:19