Born Jewel Kilcher on May 23, 1974 in Payson, UT; daughter of singer/songwriters Atz Kilcher and Nedra Carroll; raised in Anchorage, AK; parents divorced when she was eight, mother relocated to San Diego, CA; father relocated to Homer, AK. Addresses: Record Company-Atlantic Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.

Pop superstar Jewel combined original musical compositions with a beguiling, heartfelt voice and a charming, honest demeanor. Within the span of four years, Jewel went from living in a van in the San Diego, California area and performing for customers in local coffeehouses to selling more than 10 million copies of her 1995 debut release, Pieces of You. Jewel also received a two million dollar advance for a book of her intensely personal poetry titled, A Night Without Armor, which became a mainstay on the New York Times bestseller list. Her sophomore release, Spirit, was released in mid-November of 1998 and had already been certified as triple platinum by January 1, 1999. Entertainment Weekly's Jeff Gordinier described Jewel as, "The beautiful and beatific muse of positivity (who has) won a worldwide audience." He described Spirit as "a collection of 'spiritual' ballads; it's as downy-tufted and low-angst as a basket of napping puppies."

Born Jewel Kilcher on May 23, 1974 in Payson, Utah, as one of three children to singer/songwriters Atz Kilcher and Nedra Carroll. Jewel was raised on an 800-acre ranch in Anchorage, Alaska that had no running water, no locks on the doors, and no television. Jewel could play the piano before she could read, and spent much of her childhood tending horses, gardening, baling hay, and singing. Her parents performed throughout Alaska and began to include Jewel in their shows after her sixth birthday. Jewel's parents divorced when she was eight, and her mother relocated to San Diego while her father remained in Alaska. Jewel continued touring with her father until the age of 15, when she received a vocal scholarship to the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan for her junior and senior years of high school. The scholarship covered only 70 percent of the tuition at Interlochen, so Jewel raised the remaining 30 percent by performing a solo concert and through the donations of the people of Homer, Alaska. Jewel's first solo performance, at 15 was for Tom Bodet's End of the Road show.

Jewel began playing the guitar and writing songs during her senior year of high school. She also studied dance, sculpture, and drama. She had originally intended to pursue a career in opera but had a change of heart. After graduating from high school, Jewel moved to San Diego to live with her mother and took jobs as a waitress and a secretary to support herself. To save money, Jewel and her mother decided to move out of their home and to live in separate vans. Jewel kept a knife handy in case she was ever bothered at night while sleeping.

She began performing in coffeehouses around the San Diego area, and landed a regular Thursday evening slot at the Innerchange cafe in Pacific Beach, CA. It was there that she caught the ear of an Artists & Repretoire (A&R) woman for Atlantic Records named Jenny Price, as well as future manager Inga Vainshtein. Price told Gordinier, "We saw Jewel and our mouths just dropped. She was ... this little wildflower that had so much raw talent, and she was in some kind of purple jumper, and she was yodeling. The next day I called my boss at Atlantic, and I said, 'We have to sign this girl.' It was so clear to me." Jewel grew in popularity at the Innerchange and played as many as four shows a day. She met and worked with Steve Poltz, the lead singer of The Rugburns. They wrote the singles "You Were Meant For Me" and "Adrian" together.

In March of 1994, Jewel signed to Atlantic Records, and soon recorded four sets of live material at the Innerchange, including "Pieces of You" and "Little Sister," which made it on to her 1995 debut album, Pieces of You.The album received favorable reviews but did not sell well initially. It was produced by Ben Keith, who was noted for his work with Neil Young and James Taylor, and featured Neil Young's band, the Stray Gators. Jewel toured and opened for other bands around the country, and then 14 months later her debut release reached the Billboard Top 200. Her single "Who Will Save Your Soul" was re-released in 1996, and between 1996-98, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The David Letterman Show, and Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. The single "Who Will Save Your Soul" peaked at number eleven on the Billboard singles chart in September of 1996, and "You Were Meant For Me" was then re-released in 1996. Jewel performed at Lilith Fair in July of 1997, which generated a lot of publicity and favorable reviews. By the end of 1997, "You Were Meant for Me" had set the record for the longest charting single on the Billboard Hot 100-over 60 weeks. In addition, Pieces of You became the second most popular album of 1997, selling over 4.3 million copies and going platinum more than eight times in the U.S. By the end of 1997, Jewel had attained superstar status.

Jewel received a $2 million advance in 1998 to publish a book of poetry-some of the poetry dating back to her high school year, including A Night Without Armor. The book spent weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was in its twentieth printing at the start of 1999. Jewel's 1998 sophomore release, Spirit, reached number four on the Billboard 200 albums chart a month after it was released. Spiritfeatured soulful ballads and poignant lyrics, combined with Jewel's clear, melodic vocals. The release was produced by Patrick Leonard, noted for his work with Madonna, and featured Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers on bass.

Through the years 1997-98 Jewel's presence had become nearly impossible to ignore. She performed for Pope John Paul II in December of 1998, along with the vocal group Manhattan Transfer, British trio Cleopatra, and other musicians. She graced the cover of Timein July of 1997, the cover of Rolling Stone twice in 1998, and appeared on the covers of Details, Interview, Vogue, People, and Entertainment Weekly. Jewel made her acting debut in 1998 in director Ang Lee's Civil War drama,Ride With The Devil. Vainshtein had worked with Carroll when making managerial decisions concerning Jewel's career. A month before Jewel began shooting Ride With The Devil in February of 1998, she fired Vainshtein and named Carroll her sole manager. Vainshtein responded with a $10 million lawsuit for breach of contract.

Jewel received an American Music Award in 1997 for Best New Artist, a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite CD in May of 1998 for Pieces of You, and was nominated for three MTV Video Music Awards and for an MTV Viewer's Choice Award in 1997. Speaking about her commercial success, she told Gordinier, "I don't want to get on my deathbed and look back at my life and realize I worried about what just doesn't matter.... I really don't think I'm going to care that I sold ten million records, or what people thought of my poetry book."

by B. Kimberly Taylor

Jewel's Career

First solo performance at the age of 15 for Tom Bodet's "End of the Road" show; began playing the guitar and writing songs during her senior year of high school; performed in coffee houses around the San Diego area after high school; signed to Atlantic Records in March of 1994; released Pieces of You in 1995; performed on the Lilith Fair tour in July of 1997; "You Were Meant for Me" set record for longest charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, 1997; made acting debut in 1998 in director Ang Lee's Civil War drama, Ride With The Devil .

Jewel's Awards

American Music Award for Best New Artist, 1997; Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite CD in May of 1998 for Pieces of You.

Famous Works

Further Reading



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