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Jewel Bio and Interview
Raised in the Alaskan backwoods, singer-songwriter Jewel
began appearing with her parents at the age of six, yodeling as
an integral part of their folk act, and then replaced her mother as
her father's singing partner when her parents split up. Used to
hard work on the 800-acre homestead, the angel-faced blonde
practiced her music five hours a day and immersed herself in the
philosophy of Kant and Pascal, the poetry of Charles Bukowski
and Pablo Neruda.
After finishing high school at Michigan's
Interlochen Arts Academy, she joined her mom in San Diego,
where the two eventually lived out of vans while Jewel was
acquiring a following in local coffeehouses. Signing with Atlantic
Records, she released her debut album "Pieces of You" in 1995
and through relentless touring (sometimes 40 dates in 30 days)
promoted the initially slow-selling disc into a multi-platinum
Though she had struggled with dyslexia and
adolescent insecurity, her neo-hippie perspective stressed
spirituality and positive-thinking, representing the very antithesis
of Generation X's pervasive anomie.
Jewel was the perfect
package for the 90s, a naive female folk singer delicately
strumming an acoustic guitar to accompany her ethereal voice
(reflecting her yodeling roots) of protest. Her fantastic figure,
providing legitimate "babe" credentials, solidified her as a
marketer's dream, and the public's appetite for sweet emotion
made her not only a recording star, but a multi-media
phenomenon as well.
Despite viewing "Pieces of You" as a time
capsule of the songwriter as a 17- to 19-year old and sometimes
feeling embarrassed by its success, she unflinchingly published a
collection of poetry, "A Night Without Armor" (1998), containing
poems that predate her earliest songs, and contracted to follow
with a book of prose the following year.
Jewel's long-awaited second
album, "Spirit", also appeared in 1998 and, though commercially
more polished than its predecessor, did not present a significant
shift in style or attitude. Jewel, who made her TV debut as
Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True"
(TNT, 1995), portrayed a Civil War widow in her first feature, Ang
Lee's "Ride with the Devil" (1999).
Interview" [from BBB]
Jewel - again! Joy: A Holiday
Collection is a compilation of Yule-tidings from the
multi-talented singer/songwriter from Alaska.
In addition to loads of holiday classics, the album also features several new and
reworked songs from the 25-year-old songbird. And while December is a busy
month for most of us, for Jewel it's been insane. In addition to releasing her new
album, she recently finished taping a holiday version of the TV special "Sessions At
West 54th" for PBS.
If that wasn't enough -she's also making her acting debut in Ride With The Devil
opposite Skeet Ulrich and Tobey McGuire. So what the heck was it like for Jewel to
work on her first film? I asked about her new career move and how she tamed the
showbiz beast in Ride With the Devil. Here's what she had to say. [from BBB]
BBB: First off, the name "Jewel." Unless you were born in a
spiritual commune, I know you had to have had a last name.
Jewel: I was eighteen and I remember I was surfing. I got out of
the water and used the pay phone to call my label. We were
talking about the title of my album - I was gonna call it Jewel
Kilcher, Jewel Pieces Of You. But my record label misunderstood
me and thought I wanted it called Jewel, Pieces of You. Basically
they thought I wanted to drop my last name.
So I heard them talking about it, and I was like, "What am I going
to do without my last name? I sound like Barbie or Tiffany or something." I wanted
my last name. They said, "We already printed up the covers." And I was upset, so
they said, "You know what - you're only going to sell 30,000 copies. It's going to
be a small record. Your next one is the one we're going for, and then we can put
your full name on it and nobody will be the wiser." And that turned into obviously
what it is now. I always think about it, it's an odd thing.
BBB: So what kind of surfer are you? Are you pretty good?
Jewel: I'm a long boarder. I used to be okay at it, but I haven't done it in awhile.
I miss it.
BBB: It's been said that you were looking for a movie role. Is that true?
Jewel: I'd been looking at scripts and meeting with directors and all that since the
beginning, but my music career was never in a stable enough position that I could
take time off from it. It always needed nurturing. By the time my career was at a
point where I could actually let go of it for awhile, this Ang Lee project came up,
which is actually a dream come true. I've always been a huge fan of Ang's and
James Sheenes is a really great writer and he did a great job with the script.
BBB: Did you have any inhibitions about the things you did in this film like
your sex scenes or breast-feeding scenes?
Jewel: The less I thought about it the better I was. All of a sudden it was the
day of the breast-feeding scene, and I was like, all right. It was definitely a little
embarrassing. It was some other woman's baby you know, and it was crying the
whole time. I just felt terrible.
BBB: We know you're not surfing lately, but what are you doing in your
Jewel: I don't have any. I've been on the road since I was eighteen. I did the film
right after touring. I did a record right after the film. You know maybe I had three
days in between things. I'm home maybe two weeks a year and that's not all
together. That's like two days here, one day there - things like that. I figure I'll do
that for another four years and then layback.
BBB: Are you happy with that schedule?
Jewel: It's an adjustment for me. I come from a place that's just open. Alaska,
it's like, open space. I let my mind wonder and I create by going really deep inside
myself and being really quiet and watching. I haven't been able to do that for
years and I'm very productive on top of that, so I feel there's a large harvest and
very little time for me to get back into myself. I miss the quiet, there's so many
changes in my life, that it definitely takes pause, and I think one should.
BBB: Do you go home to Alaska much?
Jewel: I don't. You need time to get up there. It takes two days to Homer, you
know, and I don't have a week off or anything like that.
BBB: Is it weird to be approached by your fans?
Jewel: It depends. Some chase you through the airport calling you a whore
'cause you won't sign their autograph. Others are very nice.
BBB: They actually chase you?
Jewel: Yeah they do, people are funny. [from BBB]