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I am not from here,
My hair smells of the wind
And is full of constellations,
And I move about this world
With a healthy disbelief.
And I approach my days and my work
With vaporous consequence
A touch that is translucent,
But can violate stone.

These are a few words quoted by Jewel Kilcher, singer, songwriter, poet, author, philanthropist, painter, and actress. Dynamically creative and sensitive, this versifier describes each journey with deep introspection of spiritual insight. Her work has been one of the most captivating known to recent music history.

Born of a Swiss-German descent in the year 1974, Jewel spent most of her childhood in Homer, Alaska in a simple outhouse. Her parents Atz Kilcher and Lenedra Carroll, both artists, introduced her to the art of performance early in life. “At 6, I remember singing for Eskimos and Aluets in remote places,” says Jewel, “taking dog sled rides through frozen tundra.” Her parents divorced when she was eight. Her mother shifted out but Jewel continued to live in Alaska with her two brothers and her father. She and her father performed throughout the country. They sang duets at biker bars and lumberjack joints and if any cops appeared, Jewel would hide in the bathroom until they were gone.

Atz Kilcher was a bit hesitant to introduce the art of yodelling to his daughter early on as her vocal chords weren’t strong enough. But this pop icon, determined to excel in the traditional art, practised till she mastered it. To help her excel, big Samoan kids cornered her to yodel until her face turned blue during her short stay in Hawaii.

Today, this blond folk-singer is recognised for her beautiful voice and songs typified with stark honesty and soulful introspection. Her songs resist categorization but because of their mostly guitar accompaniment, they have sometimes been categorised as folk music or the hybrid class of folk-pop. Most of her music enjoys wide exposure on a variety of radio stations. She has also been compared to some of the best female musicians, including Alanis Morissette and Tori Amos.

Right after her schooling at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy, Jewel decided to live with her mother in California. Jewel served as a retail sales person and waitress, which she has admitted she was terrible at. With an empty stomach and no money to eat, she scraped off food from other people’s plates while she waitressed. Depressed with living such a life and without her passion for music, she quit her jobs, bought herself a second-hand blue Volkswagen van and shifted into it with her guitar and baggage. Poverty-stricken but full of aspiration and desire to make music, she travelled across the country in her rusty van and performed at different coffeehouses, accompanied by her guitar. Her first gig was at the Interchange Coffeehouse and there were barely six people in the audience. Her heart was broken but it only convinced her to pursue her dream further. She continued to perform at different coffeehouses like the Interchange and Java Joe’s and slowly received recognition. In 1994, Atlantic Records found their folk artist at the Interchange Coffeehouse performing live.

In 1995, Jewel released her debut album, Pieces Of You. An autobiographical replica of her life, the album sold over 12 million copies in the US itself. Some of the songs were recorded live at the coffeehouse. She received due respect and encouragement from renowned artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, who let her open their shows. Neil Young once gave the nervous solo artist a piece of advice at the Madison Square Garden, which she still remembers: “It’s just another hash house on the road to success. Show ’em no respect.” Addicted to performing live, Jewel admits her dislike of recording in the studio between the four quiet walls.

With records like Pieces Of You, Spirit, This Way and 0304, she has won herself the credit of a great artist along with many awards and nominations like the Grammies and a title of the sexiest female rock singer. Jewel has also appeared on the cover of many magazines like People, Time, and Rolling Stone, among others. She always knew that she could make a career in music and wanted to make at least 50 records. Well, the count has surpassed.

You can read the rest of our feature on Jewel in the April 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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