Jewel is an acclaimed American singer, songwriter, actress, poet, painter, philanthropist and daughter to an Alaskan cowboy singer-songwriter.
From the remote ranch of her Alaskan youth to international stardom, the three-time Grammy nominee, whether alone or fronting a band of ace musicians, has earned the respect of other well-known singer-songwriters, who not only invited her to open their shows, but mentored her in the early phases of her career.
Both of Jewel’s parents made local records and performed, and Jewel accompanied her parents on tours through native villages. “At six I remember singing for Eskimos and Aleuts in remote places, taking dog sled rides through frozen tundra,” she said.
When her parents divorced at the age of eight, she spent a half-dozen years with her father, touring as a duet act. At fifteen, she went her own way, performing solo for the first time and earning a vocal scholarship to Interlochen, a private arts school in Michigan where she also majored in visual arts. It was here she learned guitar and began writing songs, inspired by a love of reading at a young age.
During one spring break she took a train and hitchhiked in Mexico, earning money as a street-corner minstrel. “I made up lyrics everywhere I went and eventually it turned into a very long song about what I saw around me,” she recalls. “I made it back to school two weeks later with an unformed song called ‘Who Will Save Your Soul’.” She was 16 at the time and had no idea that the song would, three years later, offer not just a day’s meal ticket but meteoric success.
Moving to San Diego led to a series of unfortunate events, but also a regular gig at a coffeehouse in Pacific Beach, where fans soon multiplied like rabbits. Jewel was signed to Atlantic Records around her 19th birthday. Her first record, the deeply introspective acoustic modern folk collection Pieces of You, sold about 3,000 copies in the nine months after its 1995 debut. So, Jewel hit the road with a vengeance, sometimes playing four shows a day.
A folk singer at the height of grunge, she was encouraged by Bob Dylan, who discussed lyrics with her, and Neil Young, who gave the nervous solo artist a piece of advice at Madison Square Garden: “It’s just another hash-house on the road to success. Show ‘em no respect!” Hard work and heartfelt songwriting, not to mention an exquisite voice, paid off. “Who Will Save Your Soul” became a major hit, and with the hit singles “You Were Meant for Me” and “Foolish Games,” album sales went through the roof.
Hailed by The Times of London as the most sparkling female singer-songwriter since Joni Mitchell, Jewel’s subsequent albums steadily built her reputation and fan base. In November 1998 came Spirit, a collection of inspirational ballads aided by sparse, supportive instrumentation, followed in 2001 by the best-selling album This Way.
In 2003, 0304 premiered at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart, marking both the highest-debuting and highest-charting album of her career to date. Describing it as a modern take on 40s dance hall music, Jewel brought dance beats, synthesizer flavors and layered vocal overdubs to the album, which included the top five hit single “Intuition.”
After a tremendous success, Jewel returned to her roots with the release of her debut country album Perfectly Clear in 2008, which garnered the #1 spot on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Shortly after, Jewel released her first-ever independent record, Lullaby. She produced and recorded the acoustic record at her home studio. The 15-track album includes standards like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” In 2010, Jewel maintained her country roots with the follow-up Sweet and Wild. Her insightful love ballad “Satisfied” received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
2011 brought new joy as she and her husband Ty Murray welcomed baby Kase Townes. Soon after, the singer released The Merry Goes’Round. The album, inspired by Kase and written while pregnant, appeals to kids and parents alike and includes classics such as “The Green Grass Grows All Around” and “My Favorite Things,” plus new whimsical Jewel originals.
Jewel has portrayed June Carter Cash in the Lifetime movie based on her life, and has been featured on many movie soundtracks, including Ang Lee’s civil war drama Ride With the Devil, for which she also earned critical praise for her acting, debuting alongside stars Tobey Maguire and Skeet Ulrich. Jewel also guest starred on the NBC drama The Lyon’s Den, playing a lawyer opposite series star Rob Lowe.
Her debut poetry collection in 1998, A Night Without Armor, quickly became a mainstay of The New York Times bestseller list, with a million-plus copies sold and the best-selling poetry book of all time. The following year saw the publication of her second book, the intimate journal Chasing Down The Dawn, a revealing chronicle of an artist’s life on the road.
Also near and dear to Jewel’s heart is her charitable initiative, Project Clean Water, which she founded in 1997 and supports unwaveringly. Having experienced homelessness as a teenager, Jewel couldn’t afford to buy the bottled water she needed for her sick kidneys. She realized that access to clean water was a global problem.
Jewel’s style and beauty continuously land her on the covers of diverse magazines like Time, People, Vanity Fair, Glamour and Seventeen. Stuff listed her among its “Sexiest Women in the World” while Blender crowned her “rock’s sexiest poet.”
Touring remains part of Jewel’s essence and, through her U.S. and world tours, she has forged a powerful, intimate bond with audiences around the globe. Her extraordinary voice and engaging stage presence have earned her acclaim throughout North America, Asia, Australia and Europe.
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