Jewel Kilcher (born May 23, 1974),
professionally known as Jewel, is an American singer-songwriter,
guitarist, actress, and poet. She has received three Grammy Award
nominations and has sold twenty-seven million albums worldwide, and almost
twenty million in the United States alone.
Kilcher debuted on February 28, 1995, with the album, Pieces of You, which
became one of the best selling debut albums of all time, going platinum
twelve times. One single from the album, "Who Will Save Your Soul", peaked
at #11 on Billboard's Hot 100; two others, "You Were Meant for Me" and
"Foolish Games", each reached #2 and were included in Billboard's 1997
year-end singles chart. During her career, she has released several
albums, frequently switching genres between working on her albums.
Perfectly Clear, her first country record, was released on The Valory
Music Co. in 2008. It debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 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 born in Payson, Utah. Shortly after her birth, her family moved
to Homer, Alaska. Her mother Lenedra J. Carroll is of Irish descent and
her father is of Swiss-German origin (his father was a Swiss immigrant).
She is the cousin of actress Q'Orianka Kilcher. She spent most of her
young life in Homer, living with her father, Atz Kilcher. The home she
grew up in did not have indoor plumbing; it had a simple outhouse instead.
She and her father sometimes earned a living by singing in bars and
taverns. It was from these experiences she learned to yodel, a quality
demonstrated in many of her songs. Her father was a Mormon, but they
stopped attending the church shortly before she turned eight.
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 the age of sixteen.
For a time, she was poverty-stricken and lived in her van while traveling
about the country doing street performances and small gigs. She gained
some recognition by singing at the Innerchange Coffeehouse and Java Joe's
in San Diego, California. Her friend Steve Poltz's band, The Rugburns,
played the same venues. Jewel later collaborated with Poltz on some of her
songs, including "You Were Meant for Me." (He also appeared in the second,
better-known, video for this song.) 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.
Jewel married nine-time world champion pro rodeo cowboy Ty Murray on
August 7, 2008 in the Bahamas after 10 years together. The couple resides
in Stephenville, Texas on a 2,200-acre (8.9 km2) ranch.
In 1993, Michael Balzary (better known as Flea of the Red Hot Chili
Peppers) met Jewel after he saw her perform at a local cafe. They went
back to her van, in which she was living, and she gave a few songs to him.
He described her voice as being "beautiful" and "breathtaking."
Jewel was discovered in August 1993, when John Hogan, the lead singer from
a local San Diego band, Rust, whom Inga Vainshtein was managing at the
time, called to tell her about a girl surfer who sang at a local coffee
shop on Thursdays. Vainshtein drove to Innerchange coffee shop with a rep
from Atlantic Records, and after the show they called Danny Goldberg, the
head of Atlantic Record's west coast operations. At the time, Jewel did
not even have a demo. Mr. Goldberg offered to pay for Jewel to record some
of her songs. Ms. Vainshtein, a former film studio executive, became
Jewel's manager and was instrumental in creating a major bidding war,
which led to Jewel's deal with Atlantic Records and her subsequent
appearance on the cover of Time Magazine, the first ever by an Atlantic
artist. Her first studio recording session was with Bruce Robb (producer)
who produced, engineered, and mixed her demos. She cut her debut album,
Pieces of You, when she was nineteen and it was released in 1995. Jewel
recorded Pieces of You in a studio on Neil Young's ranch, and was backed
by his band, The Stray Gators, who played on Neil Young's "Harvest" and
"Harvest Moon" albums. The album Pieces of You was produced by Ben Keith,
who played steel guitar in The Stray Gators. Part of the album was cut
live at the Innerchange Coffeehouse 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 popular
hits "You Were Meant for Me", "Who Will Save Your Soul" and "Foolish
Games". The album was a huge success and eventually sold more than 12
million copies in the United States alone.
Due to her successes, 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!" However, she was
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 prerecord their vocal.
Jewel parted ways with Inga Vainshtein, her original manager in February
1998. At the time she was in talks with Daniel Lanois about producing what
would have become her 2nd album. However, upon letting Vainshtein go, and
handing her career management to her mother, she abruptly changed creative
direction, and instead of Lanois ended up going with Patrick Leonard, who
created a much more pop album. It was released in November 1998 Spirit.
The album peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than 4 million
copies in the United States. At the time, Jewel was criticized for
alienating her core fan base and the album sales were viewed as somewhat
disappointing. The song "Hands" hit #6 on the Hot 100. Other singles
followed, 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
A year later, in November 1999, Jewel released Joy: A Holiday Collection.
The album sold over a million copies and peaked at #32 on the Billboard
200. She released a cover of "Joy to the World" from the album.
In November 2001, the album This Way was released. The album peaked at #9
on the Billboard 200 and sold over 1 million copies in the U.S., standing
as her most critically acclaimed album to date. Jewel hit the Top 30 with
the song "Standing Still". Other singles released were "Break Me", "This
Way" and "Serve the Ego", the latter giving Jewel her first number-one
In 2003, Jewel released the album 0304. She writes in the liner notes,
"I wanted to make a record that was a modern interpretation of big band
music. A record that was lyric driven, like Cole Porter, that also had a
lot of swing. And a lot of it is thanks to Lester, because when I told him
I wanted to make a record that combined dance, urban, and folk music, he
didn't look at me like I was crazy."
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,
which strays from her usual folk style with simple guitar instrumentation,
starts off with a French accordion and experiments with dance-pop beats
using synthesizers. The song was successful, reaching #5 on the Billboard
Adult Top 40. Despite the different sound style, the song is lyrically
similar to her previous work. It has a number of references to culture,
including mentioning celebrities such as pop star Jennifer Lopez, model
Kate Moss, magazines, film culture, and commercialism.
On May 2, 2006, Jewel released her sixth album, Goodbye Alice In
Wonderland. The album received mixed reviews, but still managed to debut
at #8 on the Billboard Albums Chart. The album sold 82,000 copies in its
first week out. The lead single "Again and Again" had moderate success on
Adult Top 40 Radio, peaking at #16. The second single, "Good Day", was
released to radio in late June but failed to gain any traction on the
radio airplay charts. A video for "Stephenville, TX", her next single, was
seen on Yahoo! Launch. 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 a single review
appearing in the Market Wire business journal, widely duplicated in
publicity material by her PR team "The homegrown clip beautifully reflects
both the song's organic, intimate sound and its powerfully
As of December 2006, the album had sold barely 270,000 copies, making it
the first Jewel album not to achieve Gold certification quickly. Despite
this, 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." Rolling Stone however, called the album "overdone and
undercooked" with a rating of 2 stars out of 5.
Jewel released a video for the new song "Quest for Love" as the lead
single from the movie Arthur and the Invisibles. The song is only
available on the soundtrack for Arthur and the Invisibles, which was
released January 2007.
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 for a large crowd of
adoring fans. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Jewel confirmed that
she is no longer affiliated with a record label, confirming rumors that
Atlantic Records 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. She is working with John Rich of Big & Rich fame. He
says that she is "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.
In November 2007, Jewel was signed to Valory Records, a newly formed
division of the independent Big Machine Records label. Her first country
album, Perfectly Clear, was released on June 3, 2008, selling 48,000 units
in its first week. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Country Album Chart
and #8 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart (the same position as her previous
album, Goodbye Alice In Wonderland, but sold 35,000 fewer units in its
first week). In its second week on the charts, the album dropped to #25 on
the Billboard 200 and #5 on the Country Albums chart, with estimated
second week sales of 15,000 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 #13. The
next single, "I Do", released to radio on June 23, 2008. The video for the
single featured her cowboy husband, Ty Murray. This song peaked at #38.
Following it was "Till It Feels Like Cheating" which peaked at #57.
Perfectly Clear was released in Australia in late May 2009. It was then
released across Europe by Humphead Records in June 2009. The European
release of the album also includes the music video for "Stronger Woman".
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 issued to iTunes on March 17. The album was released on
May 5. "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" was #1 on The Top Children's Songs the
week of release. She also has recorded a duet with R&B singer Tyrese in
conjuction with the release of his comic, Mayhem. The song is titled "Make
It Last". It was intended to be used for the soundtrack to Transformers:
Revenge of the Fallen but did not appear on the final tracklisting.