Jewel Kilcher[4][6] (born May 23, 1974[7]) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, actress, author and poet. She has received four Grammy Award nominations and, as of 2008, has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.[8]

Jewel's debut album, Pieces of You, released on February 28, 1995, became one of the best-selling debut albums of all time, going 12 times platinum. The debut single from the album, "Who Will Save Your Soul", peaked at number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100; two others, "You Were Meant for Me" and "Foolish Games", reached number two on the Hot 100, and were listed on Billboard's 1997 year-end singles chart, as well as Billboard's 1998 year-end singles chart. She has crossed several genres throughout her career. Perfectly Clear, her first country album, was released on The Valory Music Co. in 2008. It debuted atop Billboard's Top Country Albums chart and featured three singles, "Stronger Woman", "I Do", and "'Til It Feels Like Cheating". Jewel released her first independent album Lullaby in May 2009.

Jewel was the co-host, as well as a judge, with Kara DioGuardi on the songwriting competition reality television series Platinum Hit, which premiered May 29, 2011 on the cable network Bravo. Jewel has the vocal range of a lyric soprano.[9] On July 2, 2013, NBC announced that Jewel would be a judge on the fourth season of the a cappella competition The Sing-Off.[10] Jewel's songs are represented by Downtown Music Publishing.

Early life, education and career beginnings

Jewel was born in Payson, Utah but raised in Homer, Alaska, where her grandfather, Yule Kilcher, a delegate to the Alaska Constitutional Convention and a state senator,[11] settled after emigrating from Switzerland.[12][13] Yule also made the first recorded crossing of the Harding Icefield.[14] Jewel is the daughter of Lenedra Jewel (Carroll) and Attila Kuno "Atz" Kilcher.[15] She is a first cousin once removed of actress Q'orianka Kilcher.[17]

Jewel spent most of her young life in Homer living with her father.[19] The house she grew up in did not have indoor plumbing, only a simple outhouse.[20] The Kilcher family is featured on the Discovery Channel show Alaska: The Last Frontier, which chronicles their day-to-day struggles living in the Alaskan wilderness. Jewel and her father sometimes earned a living by singing in bars and taverns. It was from these experiences she learned to yodel, which she does in many of her songs. Her father was a Mormon but they stopped attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shortly before she turned eight.[21]

Jewel learned to play the guitar while at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan, where she majored in operatic voice. She started writing songs at 16.[22] While at school, she would sometimes play at Ray's Coffee House in Traverse City, Michigan.

For a time, Jewel lived in her car while traveling around the country doing street performances and small gigs.[23] She gained recognition by singing at The Inner Change Cafe and Java Joe's in San Diego, California.[24] (Jewel made her debut at Java Joe's when it was in Poway, where she was a barista.) Her friend Steve Poltz's band, The Rugburns, played the same venues.[25] Jewel later collaborated with Poltz on some of her songs, including "You Were Meant for Me" (he also appeared in the song's second, better-known video). The Rugburns opened for Jewel on her Tiny Lights tour in 1997. Poltz appeared in Jewel's band on the Spirit World Tour 1999 playing guitar.[26]

Jewel was discovered by Inga Vainshtein in August 1993 when John Hogan, lead singer from the local San Diego band Rust, whom Ms. Vainshtein was managing, called to tell her about a girl surfer who sang at a local coffee shop on Thursdays. Ms. Vainshtein drove to The Inner Change with a rep from Atlantic Records, and after the show they called Danny Goldberg, the head of Atlantic Record's West Coast operations, and asked him to pay for Jewel's demo. (At the time she was living in a van and didn't have the means to record any of her music.) Vainshtein, who at the time was working as a film executive at Paramount, eventually became Jewel's manager and was instrumental in creating a major bidding war that led to Jewel's deal with Atlantic Records. She continued to manage Jewel until the end of the first album cycle. Jewel's debut album Pieces of You was released in 1995 when she was only 21. Recorded in a studio on Neil Young's ranch, it included Young’s backing band, The Stray Gators, who played on his Harvest and Harvest Moon albums. Part of the album was cut live at The Inner Change Cafe in San Diego where she had risen to local fame. The album stayed on the Billboard 200 for an impressive two years, reaching number four at its peak. The album spawned the Top 10 hits "You Were Meant for Me", "Who Will Save Your Soul", and "Foolish Games". The album was a huge success and eventually sold over 12 million copies in the United States. alone, more than all of her subsequent albums put together.

In the late 1990s, Mike Connell created an electronic mailing list for fans, known as "Everyday Angels". Although Jewel does not subscribe to this mailing list, she maintained communication with her EDA fans. On July 18 and 19, 1996, she gave a two-day concert known as "JewelStock" at the Bearsville Theatre. Jewel allowed the concert to be taped, and fans circulated the concert without profit.[27]

Music career

Spirit and This Way (1998–2002)

Jewel was chosen to sing the American national anthem at the opening of the Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998 in San Diego. She was introduced as "San Diego's own Jewel!" but criticized for lip syncing the anthem to a digitally-recorded track of her own voice. This was especially noticeable due to her missing her cue and not mouthing the first words. Super Bowl producers have since admitted that they attempt to have all performers pre-record their vocals.[28] She performed the "Star-Spangled Banner" again in the 2003 NBA Finals in one of the New Jersey Nets' home games.

The song "Hands" hit No. 6 on the Hot 100. Other singles followed, including a new version of "Jupiter (Swallow the Moon)", "What's Simple Is True" (the theme song to her upcoming movie), and the charity single "Life Uncommon".[29]

A year later, in November 1999, Jewel released Joy: A Holiday Collection. The album sold over a million copies and peaked at No. 32 on the Billboard 200. She released a cover of "Joy to the World" from the album as a single.[30]

In November 2001 the album This Way was released. The album peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 and sold over 1.5 million copies in the U.S. A song from the album "Standing Still" hit the Top 30. Other singles released were "Break Me", "This Way", and "Serve the Ego", the latter giving Jewel her first number one club hit.[31]

0304 (2003–06)

In 2003 Jewel released the album 0304. Following the limited success of "Serve the Ego", Jewel moved to a more pop-oriented sound with the release of the single "Intuition". The song reached No. 5 on the Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart and No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.[33]

Goodbye Alice in Wonderland (2006–07)

On May 2, 2006 Jewel released her sixth album Goodbye Alice in Wonderland. The album received mixed reviews, but still managed to debut at No. 8 on the Billboard Albums Chart and sold 82,000 copies in its first week.[35] The lead single "Again and Again" had success on Adult Top 40 Radio, peaking at No. 16.[36] The second single "Good Day" was released to radio in late June and peaked at No. 30 on the Adult Pop Songs charts. A video for "Stephenville, TX", her next single, was seen on Yahoo! Launch.[37] After a photo shoot at her Texas ranch, Jewel spontaneously decided to have photographer Kurt Markus shoot the music video for the song "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland". According to an Atlantic Records press release, "The homegrown clip beautifully reflects both the song's organic, intimate sound and its powerfully autobiographical story."[38]

As of December 2006 the album had barely sold over 270,000 copies, making it the first Jewel album not to quickly achieve Gold certification. CMT music critic Timothy Duggan praised the album: "This album showcases Jewel's unique talent as a lyricist, alongside a definite growth in her musicianship. It is what Pieces of You might have been had Jewel had the musical knowledge then that she has now. A very satisfying work, all in all."[39] Rolling Stone, however, called the album "overdone and undercooked" with a rating of 2 stars out of 5.[40] Up to now, the album has only sold over 377,000 copies.

Arthur and the Invisibles (2007)

Jewel released a video for "Quest for Love", the lead single from the movie Arthur and the Invisibles. The song is only available on the soundtrack for the film, which was released in January 2007.[41] The song is also available on YouTube.

Perfectly Clear (2007–09)

In early February 2007 Jewel recorded a duet with Jason Michael Carroll, "No Good in Goodbye", that was featured on Carroll's debut CD, Waitin' in the Country. She also made a promotional appearance on the T in Boston for the Verizon Yellow Pages, playing songs on a moving subway car and then doing an hour-long acoustic concert in South Station.

In a 2007 interview with The Boston Globe, Jewel stated that she was no longer affiliated with a record label, confirming rumors that Atlantic Records had failed to renew her contract after the lackluster sales of her then-latest album. She also hinted that she would like to do a country album next.[42] She worked with John Rich of Big & Rich fame, who said that she was "probably one of the greatest American singer-songwriters we have had." He also said that "every label in Nashville" was talking to her at the time.[43]

In November 2007 Jewel was signed to Valory Records, a newly formed division of the independent Big Machine Records label.[44] Her first country album, Perfectly Clear, was released on June 3, 2008, selling 48,000 units in its first week. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Album Chart and No. 8 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart.[45] In its second week on the charts, the album dropped to No. 25 on the Billboard 200 and No. 5 on the Country Albums chart, with estimated second week sales of 75,000 units.

Its lead single, "Stronger Woman", was released to country radio on January 17, 2008, and entered the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. On the April 26, 2008 country charts it peaked at No. 13. The next single, "I Do", was released to radio on June 23, 2008. The video for the single featured her cowboy then-husband, Ty Murray. This song peaked at No. 28. Following it was "'Til It Feels Like Cheating", which peaked at No. 57.

Perfectly Clear was released in Australia in late May 2009. It was then released across Europe by Humphead Records in June 2009.

Lullaby (2009)

In early 2009 it was announced that Jewel would release a new studio album titled Lullaby, a collection of lullabies which she described as "not just for children, but also adults". Its lead single, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", was released on iTunes on March 17, 2009. The album was released on May 5, 2009. "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" was No. 1 on The Top Children's Songs the week of release. Like 2011's The Merry Goes 'Round, it is sold under the Fisher Price brand[46] which Jewel described as "a great partnership".[47]

She also recorded the "Make It Last" with R&B singer Tyrese in conjunction with the release of his comic book Mayhem!. It was intended to be used for the soundtrack to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen but did not appear on the final track listing.[48]

Sweet and Wild (2010)

In January 2010 Jewel released "Stay Here Forever" from the soundtrack to the film Valentine's Day. It also served as the lead-off single to Jewel's ninth studio album Sweet and Wild released on June 8, 2010.[49] The single debuted at No. 48 on the Hot Country Songs chart and reached No. 34 in May 2010. "Satisfied" was released as the album's second single on May 17, 2010, reaching its highest peak of No. 57. On October 10, 2010 Jewel released the third single from Sweet and Wild, "Ten". It made its debut on the Hot Country Songs Chart at No. 55 on the week of October 15, 2010 and peaked at No. 51 two weeks later.

The Merry Goes 'Round (2011)

Jewel's second children's album, The Merry Goes 'Round, was released in August 2011.[50] Like 2009's Lullaby, it is sold under the Fisher-Price brand.[51]

Greatest Hits (2012)

On October 16, 2012 Jewel announced via Twitter a Greatest Hits album would be released in 2013.[52] The album features new duets from Kelly Clarkson and the Pistol Annies. Jewel and Clarkson recorded a fresh rendition of Jewel's song "Foolish Games" while Jewel and the Pistol Annies recut "You Were Meant for Me".[53] The Greatest Hits album was released February 5, 2013.

Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection (2013)

On August 6, 2013, Jewel announced the release of her second Christmas album, titled Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection, scheduled for release on November 12, 2013. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Jewel was quoted as saying “I wanted this record to have a resemblance to the first album. It’s a continuation of mood and spirit of that record, with the mood and feel of the album artwork with an image and tone that evokes that spirit.”[54]

Picking Up the Pieces (2015)

In February 2014, Jewel began work on her next album and confirmed that it will not be released by a major record label, and that she will be producing it herself.[56] It will reportedly have a sound similar to Pieces of You. On June 28, Jewel revealed in a Q&A on Facebook that the new album will be released in the second week of September. It will have a folk sound and was recorded with a live band. On July 21, Jewel confirmed the title as Picking Up the Pieces.[7] Picking Up the Pieces was released on September 11, 2015.

In 2015, Jewel appeared on Blues Traveler's album Blow Up the Moon, co-writing the song "Hearts Still Awake."

In July 2016, Jewel appeared on ABC's Greatest Hits.[7]

Musical equipment and technique

Owning a wide variety of Taylor Guitars, Jewel uses a Taylor 912-C most often.[2] Acoustic Guitar writer Jeffery Pepper Rodgers called the guitar her "steady companion".[2]

All of her guitars are strung with D'Addario products.[2] To strum, she employs a unique self-created fingerpicking technique or a hard pick.[2]

Film and theater

Jewel starred as character "Sue Lee Shelley" in the 1999 Ang Lee film Ride with the Devil along with Tobey Maguire.[7] Jewel also starred as Dorothy in the 1995 "Dreams Come True" production of The Wizard of Oz.[7] She had a cameo as herself in Walk Hard.[7] In June 2012 Jewel was cast in the lead role as June Carter Cash in the Lifetime original movie Ring of Fire.[7]

Television

DateTitleRoleNote
1995VH1's VH1 Duets
Herself
In an episode led by Melissa Etheridge, Jewel and Melissa sang together on the songs "Baby You Can Sleep While I Drive" and "Foolish Games". She also sang with Melissa Etheridge, Billy Paul, Joan Osborne, and Sophie B. Hawkins in a performance of Joan Armatrading's "Love and Affection."
1996MTV's "MTV 120 Minutes"Performed Acoustic version of "Absence of Fear"
1997Saturday Night LiveMusical Guest with John Goodman
1998Saturday Night LiveMusical Guest with Joan Allen
1999Movie- Ride with the DevilCharacter, Co-starred with Tobey Maguire in this Civil War drama.
2002VH1's Rock and Roll Hall of FamePerformer, sang duet of Here Comes the Sun with Rob Thomas. Read introduction to Brenda Lee, one of the inductees.[7]
2003VH1's 2003 Diva DuetsPerformer, sang duet of Proud Mary with Beyoncé Knowles.[7]
The Lyon's Den
Jennifer Matthews
Rob Lowe's ex
2006The Young and the Restless
Herself
Performed at a fund raiser hosted by characters Nick and Sharon Newman to mark the first anniversary of their teenage daughter's death in a drunk-driving accident.
CMT Country Music Awards
Presenter
Presented with Ty Murray
7th Heaven
Herself
Neighbor to characters Lucy Camden Kinkirk and Kevin Kinkirk, sang her song "Good Day" for their baby Savannah to help her fall asleep.
Las VegasSang three songs from Goodbye Alice in Wonderland.
Men in TreesSang the song Good Day with a character of Men in Trees.
2007American Idol
Herself, Guest-Judge
American Idol, Season 6 Guest-Judge for the season six premiere / auditions in Minneapolis.
Nashville Star
Host
Co-host with Cowboy Troy.[7]
Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race
Herself
ABC reality television series featuring a dozen celebrities (including Ty Murray) in a stock car racing competition. In the first round of competition, Jewel matched up against former NBA player John Salley and WWE wrestler John Cena.[7]
Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding ChallengeAmerican celebrity reality television show on CMT in which nine celebrities from across the board spend 10 days learning how to ride bulls with retired rodeo star Ty Murray for the PBR Jack Daniels Invitational in Nashville, Tennessee.
2008CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (season 8)
Herself
Episode Bull – Sang the U.S. National Anthem in a rodeo
Nashville Star, Season 6
Judge
The show has moved to NBC this season. Jewel is a judge, along with John Rich and Jeffrey Steele, and hosted by Country music singer, Billy Ray Cyrus.
2010Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Herself
WWE Raw
Herself
Guest host on the February 22 edition along with her husband Ty Murray.
Funny or Die
Karen, Herself
Sang in a karaoke bar as Karen, a frumpy office worker, before revealing her true identity.
America's Got Talent The Finale: Results
Herself
Performed a duet with America's Got Talent finalist, Michael Grimm.
2011Platinum Hit
Host/Judge
2013Howard TV
Herself
Performed Acoustic version of Howard Sterns ‘Silver Nickels and Golden Dimes’.
Ring of Fire
June Carter
The Sing-Off
Judge[10]
2014The Sing-Off
Judge

Minor

Dancing with the Stars

On February 8, 2009, it was announced that Jewel would appear on the eighth season of Dancing with the Stars alongside new pro Dmitry Chaplin, which she did primarily as a bet against then-husband Ty Murray. However, five days before the season premiere, she suffered stress fractures in the tibia of both legs and was forced to withdraw.[8]

Writing

Jewel published a book of poetry titled A Night Without Armor in 1998. Although it sold over 1 million copies and was a New York Times best seller, it received mixed reviews.[8] During an MTV interview in 1998, Kurt Loder pointed out the incorrect usage in her book of poetry of the word "casualty" (intended as something to the effect of "of a casual nature") to which Jewel responded, "You're a smartass for pointing that out. Next topic." In the fall of '98, the poet Beau Sia composed a book-length response to "A Night Without Armor" entitled "A Night Without Armor II: the Revenge."[8] The reviewer Edna Gundersen, writing in USA Today, noted, "Hers is flowery and sensitive. His is wry and absurd."[8]

Jewel went on to write an autobiography titled Chasing Down the Dawn in 2000, a collection of diary entries and musings detailing her life growing up in Alaska, her struggle to learn her craft and life on the road.[8]

Jewel was scheduled to release a third book called Love Poems, which was supposed to be an extremely intimate portrayal of her relationship with her then-boyfriend, Ty Murray. It was canceled several months before release because Jewel was worried about Murray's mother's reaction to her intimate confessions.[8]

On September 15, 2015, Jewel released a new memoir entitled Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story.[76]

Philanthropy

Jewel formed a nonprofit organization called Higher Ground for Humanity with her mother, Lenedra J. Carroll, and her older brother, Shane Kilcher. The organization's focus is education, sustainable improvements, and building alliances with like-minded organizations.[8] Jewel donates a portion of her income to the organization and often holds events to benefit the organization.[8] The organization tends to parallel Jewel's career since she provides the majority of the organization's funding. As of 2005, the activities of the organization were reduced. One early grantee was the Global Youth Action Network, which has become one of the largest youth movements around the United Nations.

In September 2006, as part of Lifetime's "Stop Breast Cancer for Life" campaign, Jewel delivered more than 12 million petition signatures to Capitol Hill, urging Congress to pass the bipartisan Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2005 (S 910/HR1849).[81] The bill would ban the practice of "drive-through" mastectomies, when women are discharged from the hospital just hours after their surgeries.

Jewel served as the honorary chairperson of the 2006 Help the Homeless Walk in Washington, DC.[82]

In May 2013 Jewel served as ambassador for the ReThink: Why Housing Matters initiative. She was included in the initiative's public service announcement (PSA) which asked Americans to rethink their views on public housing and consider how it benefits people in their own communities.

Project Clean Water celebrity lyrics auction

In November 2008, Jewel began work on a project with several dozen singer-songwriters to write and auction their lyrics with donations benefiting her "Project Clean Water" charity.[83] Many singers and songwriters besides herself have donated their written lyrics including Patrick Davis, Alabama's Randy Owen, John Mellencamp, Jason Mraz, Gretchen Wilson, and Marv Green. The majority of the lyrics were written on paper and signed by the songwriter, with the exception of Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl". Many of the artists in addition to writing and signing lyrics, drew pictures to illustrate their lyrics. The auction ran from December 1, 2008 to December 18, 2008, promoted by CMT and Virgin Music.[84] Some of the lyrics that were up for auction included hits such as "So Small", "Foolish Games", "I'm Yours", "I Kissed a Girl", "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)", "Live Like You Were Dying", "I Don't Need a Man", "Superman (It's Not Easy)" and "Redneck Woman".[85] The highest bought lyrics being Jewel's signature song "You Were Meant For Me" sold for $1,505, and "Who Will Save Your Soul" and "Hands", raising more than $1,005 each. Jewel promised that all items sold by December 18 would be delivered by Christmas.[86] After the majority of the auctions ended on December 18 two new lyrics by Craig Wiseman and Ernie Ashworth were put up for auction ending in January 2009.[87]

Personal life

Jewel was in a relationship with actor Sean Penn in 1995 after he spotted her performing on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. He invited her to compose a song for his film The Crossing Guard and followed her on tour.[88]

Jewel married pro rodeo cowboy Ty Murray on August 7, 2008, in the Bahamas after 10 years together. Their son, Kase Townes Murray, was born on July 11, 2011.[89] On July 2, 2014, after nearly 6 years of marriage, Jewel announced on her website that she and Ty were divorcing.[91]

Jewel is the daughter of Atz Kilcher, who stars in the Discovery Channel show Alaska: The Last Frontier.[92] All three of her brothers live in Alaska.[93] Her cousin is actress Q'orianka Kilcher who is best known for her role as Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell and Christian Bale in director Terrence Malick's Academy Award-nominated motion picture The New World (2005).[94]

Jewel has been estranged from her mother and former business manager Nedra since 2003; the singer has accused her mother of stealing millions of dollars from her.[76]

Politics

Jewel identifies as a feminist and has said, "I don't think I started off young as a feminist. I read a lot of books in Alaska, I was pretty isolated where I grew up, and I think that I never thought I was any different than a man; I was raised in a place where pioneer women were very strong still. They'd shoe horses and build their own homes and were very self-sufficient. It wasn't really until I've gotten older that I really became a fan of women. And a fan of what women are capable of balancing and achieving, by just being them."[96]

Major tours

Awards

YearAward-giving BodyAwardResult
1996MTV Video Music AwardsBest Female Video – Who Will Save Your SoulNominated
MTV Video Music AwardsBest New ArtistNominated
1997American Music AwardsFavorite New ArtistWon
American Music AwardsFavorite Pop/Rock ArtistNominated
VH1 Vogue Fashion AwardsMost Fashionable Video: Foolish GamesNominated
Grammy AwardsBest New ArtistNominated
Grammy AwardsBest Female Pop Vocal PerformanceWho Will Save Your SoulNominated
MTV Video Music AwardsBest Female Video – "You Were Meant For Me"Won
MTV Video Music AwardsViewer's Choice—You Were Meant For MeNominated
MTV Video Music AwardVideo Of The Year—You Were Meant For MeNominated
Billboard MagazineNo. 1 Female Singles Artist Of The YearWon
Billboard MagazineTop 40 Artist Of The YearWon
1998American Music AwardsFavorite Female ArtistNominated
American Music AwardsFavorite LP – Pieces of YouNominated
Grammy AwardsBest Female Pop Vocal PerformanceFoolish GamesNominated
1999Blockbuster Music AwardsFavorite Female ArtistWon
Audie AwardBest Spoken Word Album—A Night Without ArmorWon
Governor's AwardSongwriting AwardWon
2003Radio Music AwardsFavorite Female Artist—Modern RockWon
Regis & Kelly AwardsFavorite Musical GuestWon
2010American Country AwardsFemale Artist of the YearNominated
Grammy AwardsBest Female Country Vocal Performance — SatisfiedNominated

Works

Studio albums

Videos

  • Jewel: A Life Uncommon (1999) - An intimate documentary on DVD featuring live performances and candid interviews.
  • Live at Humphrey's By The Bay (2004) - Shot over two sold-out performances at the San Diego venue. Bonus features include interviews, live footage from her This Way Tour, and a photo gallery.
  • Jewel: The Essential Live Songbook (2008) - This home video combines two concerts that were broadcast in 2007 for the television program Soundstage (at the Rialto Theatre including some numbers with orchestra, and the Meyerson Symphony Center); and 4 songs from Red Rocks. Bonus features are an interview and music video. The concerts are also available separately for streaming.

Books

  • A Night Without Armor (1998)
  • Chasing Down the Dawn (2000)
  • Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story (2015)