Jewel Kilcher (born May 23, 1974), known mononymously as Jewel, is an American singer-songwriter, musician, producer, actress, author, and poet. She has received four Grammy Award nominations and, as of 2008, has sold over 30 million albums worldwide. Kilcher was raised in Homer, Alaska, where she grew up singing and yodeling as a duo with her father, a local musician. At age fifteen, she received a partial scholarship at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, where she studied operatic voice.
After graduating, Kilcher began writing and performing at clubs and coffeehouses in San Diego, California. Based on local media attention, she was offered a recording contract with Atlantic Records, who released her debut album, Pieces of You, in 1995; it went on to become 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 11 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.
Her subsequent album, Spirit, was released in 1998, followed by This Way (2001). In 2003, she released 0304, which marked a departure from her previous folk-oriented records, featuring electronic arrangements and elements of dance-pop. In 2008, she released Perfectly Clear, her first country album; 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 2009.
Jewel has also had endeavors in writing and acting; in 1998 she released a collection of poetry, and the following year appeared in a supporting role in Ang Lee's Western film Ride with the Devil (1999) which earned her critical acclaim.
Jewel was born May 23, 1974 in Payson, Utah, the second child of Attila Kuno "Atz" Kilcher and Lenedra Jewel Kilcher (née Carroll). At the time of her birth, her parents had been living in Utah with her elder brother, Shane; her father was attending Brigham Young University. She is a first cousin once removed of actress Q'orianka Kilcher. Her father, originally from Alaska, was a Mormon, though the family stopped attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after her parents' divorce when she was eight years old. Her paternal grandfather, Yule Kilcher, was a delegate to the Alaska Constitutional convention and a state senator of German descent who settled in Alaska after emigrating from Switzerland. He was also the first recorded person to cross the Harding Icefield.
Shortly after her birth, the family relocated to Anchorage, Alaska, settling on the Kilcher family's 770-acre (310 ha) homestead. There, her younger brother, Atz Jr., was born. She also has a half-brother, Nikos, who was primarily raised in Oregon by his mother, with whom her father had a brief relationship; she would later become close to him in adulthood. After her parents' divorce in 1981, Kilcher lived with her father in Homer, Alaska. The house she grew up in lacked indoor plumbing and had only a simple outhouse. 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. Recalling her upbringing, she said:
We lived far from town. We had to walk 2 miles (3.2 km) just to get to the saddle barn I was raised in... No running water, no heat—we had a coal stove and an outhouse and we mainly lived off of what we could kill or can. We picked berries and made jam. We caught fish to freeze and had gardens and cattle to live on. I rode horses every day in the summer beneath the Alaskan midnight sun. I loved it there.
Kilcher and her father sometimes earned a living by performing music in roadhouses and taverns as a father-daughter duo; they also often sang at hotels in Anchorage, including the Hotel Captain Cook and the Hilton Anchorage. It was during this time that Kilcher learned yodel from her father. She would later credit the time she spent in bars as integral to her formative years: "I saw women who would compromise themselves for compliments, for flattery; or men who would run away from themselves by drinking until they ultimately killed themselves."
At age fifteen, while working at a dance studio in Anchorage, she was referred by the studio instructor to Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan, where she applied and received a partial scholarship to study operatic voice. Local businesses in her hometown of Homer donated items for auction to help allocate additional funds, and raised a total of $11,000 to pay the remainder of her first year's tuition. She subsequently relocated to Michigan to attend Interlochen, where she received classical training, and also learned to play guitar. She began writing songs on guitar at age sixteen. While in school, she would often perform live in coffeehouses. After graduating, she relocated to San Diego, California, where she worked in a coffee shop and as a phone operator at a computer warehouse.
1993-1997: Beginnings and Pieces of You
For a time, Kilcher lived in her car while traveling around the country doing street performances and small gigs, mainly in Southern California. She gained recognition by singing at The Inner Change Cafe and Java Joe's in San Diego; she would later make her debut record at Java Joe's when it was in Poway, where she had worked as a barista. Her friend Steve Poltz's band, The Rugburns, played the same venues. She 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.
Kilcher was discovered by Inga Vainshtein in August 1993 when John Hogan, lead singer from the local San Diego band Rust, whom Vainshtein was managing, called to tell her about a girl surfer who sang at a local coffee shop on Thursdays. Vainshtein drove to The Inner Change with a representative 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 her demo, since at the time she was living in a van and lacked the means to record any of her own music. Vainshtein, who at the time was working as a film executive at Paramount, eventually became her manager and was instrumental in creating a major bidding war that led to her deal with Atlantic Records. She continued to manage Jewel until the end of the first album cycle. Her debut album Pieces of You was released the eponym of Jewel, in 1995 when she was 21 years old. Recorded in a studio on singer 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 recorded live at The Inner Change Cafe in San Diego, where she had risen to local fame. The album stayed on the Billboard 200 for 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 eventually sold over 12 million copies in the United States alone.
In the late 1990s, Mike Connell created an electronic mailing list for fans, known as "Everyday Angels". Although Jewel herself does not subscribe to this mailing list, she maintained communication with her EA 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.
1998-2002: Spirit and This Way
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. She performed the "Star-Spangled Banner" again in the 2003 NBA Finals in one of the New Jersey Nets' home games.
From her second album, Spirit, 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".
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.
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.
2003-2007: 0304 and Goodbye Alice in Wonderland
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.
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. The lead single "Again and Again" had success on Adult Top 40 Radio, peaking at No. 16. 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. 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."
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.
2007-2008: Label shift and Perfectly Clear
Jewel released a video for "Quest for Love", the lead single from the movie Arthur and the Invisibles, recorded in 2006; the song is only available on the soundtrack for the film, which was released in 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.
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. 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.
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 No. 1 on the Billboard Country Album Chart and No. 8 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart. 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.
2009-2013: Lullaby and other releases
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 which Jewel described as "a great partnership".
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.
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. 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.
Jewel's second children's album, The Merry Goes 'Round, was released in August 2011. Like 2009's Lullaby, it is sold under the Fisher-Price brand.
On October 16, 2012, Jewel announced via Twitter a Greatest Hits album would be released in 2013. 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". The Greatest Hits album was released February 5, 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."
2014-present: Picking Up the Pieces
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. 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. 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 performing "You Were Meant For Me" with Tori Kelly.
On November 4, 2017, Jewel sang "Where the Turf Meets the Surf" before the running of the Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar racetrack.8
Musical equipment and technique
Owning a wide variety of Taylor Guitars, Jewel uses a Taylor 912-C most often. Acoustic Guitar writer Jeffery Pepper Rodgers called the guitar her "steady companion".
All of her guitars are strung with D'Addario products. To strum, she employs a unique self-created fingerpicking technique or a hard pick.
Acting and writing
Jewel made her acting debut in 1999 playing the character Sue Lee Shelley in Ang Lee's Western film Ride with the Devil, opposite Tobey Maguire. The film received mixed-positive reviews, though critic Roger Ebert praised her performance, writing: "Jewel deserves praise for, quite simply, performing her character in a convincing and unmannered way. She is an actress here, not a pop star trying out a new hobby."
She later had a cameo as herself in Walk Hard (2007). In June 2012, Jewel was cast in the lead role as June Carter Cash in the Lifetime original movie Ring of Fire. In 2017, she appeared in two television mystery films on the Hallmark Channel: Framed for Murder: A Fixer Upper Mystery, and Concrete Evidence: A Fixer Upper Mystery, both in which she plays the character Shannon Hughes, a contractor and investigator.
Jewel has also had ventures into writing; she 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. 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." The reviewer Edna Gundersen, writing in USA Today, noted, "Hers is flowery and sensitive. His is wry and absurd."
She 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. She 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. On September 15, 2015, Jewel released a new memoir entitled Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story.
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. Jewel donates a portion of her income to the organization and often holds events to benefit the organization. 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). 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, D.C.
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. 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. 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". The highest bought lyrics being Jewel's signature song "You Were Meant For Me" sold for US$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. 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.
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.
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.
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. On July 2, 2014, after nearly 6 years of marriage, Jewel announced on her website that she and Murray were divorcing.
Jewel is the daughter of Atz Kilcher, who stars in the Discovery Channel show Alaska: The Last Frontier. All three of her brothers live in Alaska. 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).
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.
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."
|1996||MTV Video Music Awards||"Who Will Save Your Soul"||Best Female Video||Nominated|
|Best New Artist||Nominated|
|1997||Grammy Award||Best Female Pop Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|Herself||Best New Artist||Nominated|
|American Music Award||Favorite New Artist||Won|
|Favorite Pop/Rock Artist||Nominated|
|Billboard Music Award||Top Artist||Nominated|
|Top Hot 100 Artist||Nominated|
|Top Adult Contemporary Artist||Nominated|
|"You Were Meant for Me"||Top Hot 100 Song||Nominated|
|Top Adult Contemporary Single||Nominated|
|MTV Video Music Award||Video of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Female Video||Won|
|VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards||"Foolish Games"||Most Fashionable Video||Nominated|
|1998||Grammy Award||Best Female Pop Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|American Music Award||Pieces of You||Favorite LP||Nominated|
|Herself||Favorite Female Pop/Rock Artist||Nominated|
|1999||Blockbuster Entertainment Awards||Favorite Female Artist||Won|
|Governor's Awards||Songwriting Award||Won|
|Audie Awards||A Night Without Armor||Best Spoken Word Album||Won|
|2002||MVPA Awards||"Standing Still"||Best Adult Contemporary Video||Won|
|2003||Radio Music Awards||Herself||Favorite Female Artist—Modern Rock||Won|
|Regis & Kelly Awards||Favorite Musical Guest||Won|
|2011||American Country Awards||Female Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||"Satisfied"||Best Female Country Vocal Performance||Nominated|
Studio albumsMain article: Jewel discography
- Pieces of You (1995)
- Spirit (1998)
- Joy: A Holiday Collection (1999)
- This Way (2001)
- 0304 (2003)
- Goodbye Alice in Wonderland (2006)
- Perfectly Clear (2008)
- Lullaby (2009)
- Sweet and Wild (2010)
- The Merry Goes 'Round (2011)
- Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection (2013)
- Picking Up the Pieces (2015)
- 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 four songs from Red Rocks. Bonus features are an interview and music video. The concerts are also available separately for streaming.
- A Night Without Armor (1998)
- Chasing Down the Dawn (2000)
- Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story (2015)
|1999||Ride with the Devil||Sue Lee Shelley|
|2003||The Lyon's Den||Jennifer Matthews||1 episode|
|2006||The Young and the Restless||Herself||1 episode|
|Men in Trees||Herself||1 episode|
|2007||Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story||Herself|
|2013||Ring of Fire||June Carter Cash||Television film|
|2014||Dora the Explorer||Cheshire Cat||1 episode; voice role|
|2015||Axe Cop||Tear Sparrow||1 episode|
|2017||Concrete Evidence: A Fixer Upper Mystery||Shannon Hughes||Television film|
|Framed for Murder: A Fixer Upper Mystery|
|2018||Deadly Deed: A Fixer Upper Mystery||Shannon Hughes||Television film|
- 1997: Tiny Lights Tour
- 1997: Papillion Tour
- 1999: Spirit World Tour
- 2002: This Way World Tour
- 2002: New Wild West Acoustic Tour
- 2003-04: 0304 Acoustic Tour
- 2005: Tour For No Reason
- 2008: Goodbye Alice In Wonderland Tour
- 2009: Perfectly Clear Acoustic Tour
- 2009: Lullaby Acoustic Tour
- 2010: Star Light Café Tour
- 2013: Greatest Hits Tour
- 2016: Picking Up the Pieces Tour
- 2017: Jewel's Handmade Holiday Tour
- 1997: Lilith Fair (with various artists)
- 2003: 0304 World Tour
Jewel supports the following charitable causes: Education, Environment, Breast Cancer, Teens, Cancer, Arts Education, Children, Health Education, Dyslexia, AIDS.