Who Is Jewel?
Singer-songwriter Jewel began her musical career at the age of six, performing with her musical parents. She played in San Diego coffeehouses, before signing a deal with Atlantic Records and releasing her first record, Pieces of You, in 1995. Along with selling more than 30 million albums, Jewel is a published writer, activist and actress, with screen credits that include Ang Lee's 1999 Civil War drama, Ride with the Devil.
Early Life and Career
Jewel Kilcher was born on May 23, 1974, in Payson, Utah, and grew up in Alaska. She began her musical career at the age of six, joining her parents, singer-songwriters Atz Kilcher and Nedra Carroll, on stage. After her parents divorced, Jewel continued to tour for several years with her father, who taught her how to yodel—a singing technique that Jewel has used in many of her own songs.
At age 15, Jewel made a big career jump; she began performing as a solo act and won a vocal scholarship to Interlochen, a private school in Michigan dedicated to the arts. While there, she began writing songs and took up the guitar. Jewel later moved to San Diego, California, to live with her mother, and eventually branched out on her own, living in a van for a time as she tried to make it as a performer.
With her impressive vocal range and poetic lyrics, Jewel found success playing at coffeehouses in the San Diego area. Her first steady gig was at the Innerchange in Pacific Beach. While performing there, she was discovered by a music manager and record company representatives, who were impressed with her raw talent. Jewel signed a deal with Atlantic Records in 1994.
Albums and Songs
'Pieces of You'
Jewel's first album, Pieces of You, was released the following year, but it wasn't until 1996 that the album really took off. She toured constantly to promote her music, serving as the opening act for two musical legends: Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Her persistence began to pay off as her single "Who Will Save Your Soul" became a huge hit, climbing to No. 11 on Billboard's Top 100 chart. Two other songs from Pieces of You, "You Were Meant for Me" and "Foolish Games," were also well-received. With its folk and pop sensibility, the album went on to sell around 11 million copies. Listeners were captivated by the heartfelt emotions Jewel conveyed in her songs.
'Spirit,' 'This Way'
Jewel's second album, Spirit, released in 1998, showcased her talents as a folk music performer. Filled with ballads and simple instrumentation, the album included the popular songs "Hands" and "Standing Still." After releasing the Christmas album Joy: A Holiday Collection (1999), Jewel returned with a lighter, more pop-based sound with 2001's This Way, which featured the title track and "Break Me" as singles.
Jewel went on to reinvent herself in 2003 with 0304, making a foray into dance music, much to the surprise of her longtime fans. The album debuted at the No. 2 spot on the Billboard 200 chart and featured the hit single "Intuition." Not only did Jewel sound different, she looked different too, wearing sexier, edgier clothing in her music videos and on stage.
'Goodbye Alice in Wonderland,' 'Perfectly Clear'
In 2006, Jewel returned to her roots with the personal, folk-influenced album Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, which met with mild success. In November 2007, Jewel embarked on another musical transformation when she signed with Valory Records and began working on her first country album. Perfectly Clear hit retail stores in June 2008 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Album Chart. The album included the hit "Stronger Woman," which made it into the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
'Lullaby,' 'Sweet and Wild,' 'The Merry Goes 'Round'
In early 2009, Jewel announced that she was working on a new album. Lullaby, a collection of new songs and covers of popular nursery rhymes, was released in May 2009. The album's first single, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," a remake of the Judy Garland classic, was released on iTunes in March 2009. Her next album, the country-flavored Sweet and Wild (2010), featured the single "Stay Here Forever," which also appeared on the soundtrack to the romantic comedy Valentine's Day. Jewel then revisited the "children's songs for all ages" theme with The Merry Goes 'Round (2011).
'Picking Up the Pieces'
After releasing her Greatest Hits and Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection in 2013, Jewell revisited her folk roots once again with 2015's Picking Up the Pieces. Along with featuring several songs that were familiar to fans from her live performances, the album included a collaboration with Dolly Parton on "My Father's Daughter." Jewel later teased the arrival of her 12th studio album with the release of the songs "No More Tears" in late 2019 and "Grateful" in spring 2020.
Film and TV Appearances
'Rides with the Devil,' 'Platinum Hit'
Jewel made her big-screen debut in the Ang Lee Civil War drama Rides with the Devil in 1999, acting alongside Tobey Maguire and Skeet Ulrich. On the small screen, she appeared on such programs as The Lyons Den, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Las Vegas. Additionally, she immersed herself in the world of reality TV competitions by serving as a judge on shows like Nashville Star and Platinum Hit.
'Ring of Fire,' 'A Fixer Upper Mystery'
In June 2012, Jewel announced that she would be playing June Carter Cash—the second wife of Johnny Cash—in Lifetime's Ring of Fire. For the role, Jewel dyed her hair brown and had veneers applied to her teeth, straightening her signature crooked smile. Actress Reese Witherspoon had previously portrayed the singer in the 2005 film Walk the Line, and won an Oscar for her performance.
Jewel went on to star in multiple installments of Hallmark's A Fixer Upper Mystery TV movie series as home renovator turned sleuth Shannon Hughes.
Poetry and Books
Amid her early pop success, Jewel published a collection of poetry, A Night Without Armor (1998), which quickly became a best seller. She followed with Chasing Down the Dawn: Stories from the Road (2000), a collection of musings and reflections from her journals over the years.
In 2015, the artist published a more traditional memoir, Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story, which included the revelations that her father had been abusive and that her mom had embezzled money while serving as her business manager.
Charities and Activism
Jewel has also devoted her time to helping others. She established Higher Ground for Humanity, a charitable foundation that handles projects in many different countries, in 1998. Some of the organization's efforts include helping to provide clean drinking water to communities around the world. In 2008, Jewel auctioned off celebrities' hand-written lyrics to benefit HGH's drinking-water project.
In 2016, the artist launched her Never Broken initiative to spur emotional wellness, particularly among troubled children. In 2019, Jewel teamed with actresses Halle Berry and Rosario Dawson to produce Lost in America, a film about the experiences of homeless youth. The following year, she performed the "Live From San Quarantine: A Livestream Concert" to raise money for that particular vulnerable segment of the population.
In August 2008, Jewel married her longtime boyfriend, rodeo champion Ty Murray, in the Bahamas. She became a mother with the birth of son Kase in July 2011, before the couple announced their plans to divorce in 2014.
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