Joss Stone to appear at Exeter Pride

Devon singing-songwriting sensation Joss Stone will appear at the 9th Exeter Pride, which will take place in the city on Saturday, May 13.

Joss (30), who hails from Uffculme and still lives in Mid Devon, as well as attending to support the event, says she will take to the main stage to sing a song or two at the biggest free celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) communities in the county of Devon.

Joss recently returned from her Total World Tour which has seen her perform gigs at large and small venues across many continents.

Joss rose to fame in 2003 with her multi-platinum album "The Soul Sessions", which made the 2004 Mercury Prize shortlist.

Her second album, the similarly multi-platinum "Mind, Body and Soul", topped the UK Albums Chart for one week and spawned the top 10 hit "You Had Me".

Both the album and single received a nomination at the 2005 Grammy Awards while Joss was nominated for Best New Artist, and in the annual BBC poll of music critics."Sound of 2004" was ranked fifth as a predicted breakthrough act of 2004.

She became the youngest British female singer to top the UK Albums Chart.

Joss's third album "Introducing Joss Stone", released in 2007, became her first top five album in the United States.  Her fourth album "Colour Me Free!" and her fifth album "LP1" both reached the top 10 on Billboard.

Throughout her career, Joss has sold 14 million albums worldwide, establishing herself as one of the best-selling artists of her time, best-selling soul artists of the 2000s and best-selling British artists of her time.

Her first three albums have sold more than 2,722,000 copies in the US, while her first two albums have sold more than 2,000,000 copies in the UK.

Stone has earned numerous accolades, including two Brit Awards and has appeared in film and television roles.

In 2012 she was said to be the fifth richest British musician under 30.

"The Soul Sessions Vol 2", released in 2012, was her fourth consecutive album to reach the top 10 Billboard 200.

The ninth annual Exeter Pride will include the always popular rainbow flag march from the St Sidwell Centre down Exeter High Street to Northernhay Gardens, Exeter Phoenix, Exeter Library and Rougemont Gardens, where a packed programme of activities will await.

The march will begin at 12 noon.

It will include community groups, firefighters, police, students, trade union and business LGBT+ groups plus individuals.

The march will also include Street Heat samba band, a fire engine, an ambulance, Morris dancers and volunteers carrying a 50-metre rainbow flag.

The events and activities during the day will all be family-friendly and include activities for children, young people and adults.

There will be a bigger Pride Marketplace, including dozens of stalls from various organisations.

In addition, there will also be a talking zone at Exeter Central Library, workshops, drumming, film shows, a panel debate, trans workshop and many other activities at Exeter Phoenix.

There will be information from local, national and international organisations, demonstrations and fun activities.

The march will arrive at Northernhay Gardens at 1pm and will be followed by a welcome to the afternoon's activities from the Lord Mayor of Exeter, Councillor Cynthia Thompson and the MP for Exeter, Ben Bradshaw.

Entertainment on the main stage will continue throughout the afternoon and include Spectrum Choir, Reigns who will perform the official 2017 Pride Anthem, South West Drag Idol heat winner Ruby Rawthorne and many bands, with hostess, Demeanor McCall.

Other guests attending will include Sandra from "Gogglebox" and others to be confirmed.

Rougemont Gardens will host the Family zone, with many children's and family-friendly activities.

The Saturday afternoon will end with a ceilidh.

The ceilidh will be followed by La Voix's Big Gay Eurovision Party and a club night with "Magic Hatstand" at Exeter Phoenix.

Prior to the events on the Saturday, during the evening of Friday, May 12, there will be a Drag and Comedy Cabaret Evening at Exeter Phoenix.

Principal supporters this year include Exeter City Council Community Board, Devon County Council, The University of Exeter, FSB (Vision ICT), Devon and Cornwall Police, Devon and

Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, UNISON South West, Nandos, Patronus Security, Vaults Bar and Club, River Dart Country Park Ltd and Cartridges solicitors.

Joss Stone said she was "thrilled" to be supporting Exeter Pride this year.

"It will be the first Pride event that I have ever attended, and where better than at my local Pride in Exeter.

"I feel it is important to support equality for everyone and am thrilled to be taking part.

"I am sure it will be a lot of fun."

Chris Scadden, the chair of Exeter Pride committee, said: "Exeter Pride is a celebration of the city and county's LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) communities.

"It is about us having pride in our contributions to not just a vibrant and diverse city, but all of Devon and the city and county having pride in us.

"It's also important that, in the 50th anniversary year of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act and the beginning of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, that Exeter and Devon show a message of hope, solidarity and support to International LGBT+ communities still facing oppression, imprisonment and often violence.

He added: "Exeter Pride would not be possible without generous donations from local businesses, organisations and individuals and the fundraising efforts of volunteers.

"Together with generous sponsorship from our partners, we are able to keep all our daytime events free-of-charge."

Mr Scadden thanked the hard working trustees and committee members and 50 volunteers who help stage the event each year and said that without their support it would not be such a success.

Lee Howell, Chief Fire Officer Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service added: “We are very proud to be leading the Exeter Pride parade with a fire appliance from the city station and walking alongside colleagues from other emergency services, partners, community groups and individuals.

"Our purpose is to keep our residents, businesses and visitors safe and our presence at Exeter Pride allows us to show how much we value and respect the diversity in our communities.

"The event is always a highlight for us as it provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the many differences that people have both in the community and in the workplace.”

Further information about Exeter Pride is available on the website: www.exeterpride.org  on Twitter: @exeterpride or Facebook: Facebook.com/exeterpride