Jewel's Biography

Jewel Kilcher was born May 23, 1974 in Payson, Utah. Her grandfather, Yule Kilcher, emigrated from Switzerland to Alaska and helped write the state charter. Jewel grew up on an 800-acre homestead with her parents and two brothers. They had little in the way of modern conveniences; there was no television and the bathroom was an outhouse. She spent much of her free time writing in her journal, writing poems, and singing. At age six, she began singing with her parents in dinner shows in local hotels. She even started yodeling. At eight, her parents divorced, and Jewel went to live with her father, Atz.

After the ninth grade, Jewel moved to Hawaii and lived with her aunt. There, she was beat up everyday because of her race. In a year's time, she earned enough money to return to Alaska and moved in with her mother, Nedra, in Anchorage. At 16, they moved to Seward, Alaska, 200 miles from Homer. Jewel earned a partial scholarship Interlochen, an arts school in Michigan, where she learned to play guitar despite being dyslexic.

After she finished school, she left to join her mother in San Diego. Jewel lived out of her car for some time. She went swimming in the ocean quite a bit and relied on strangers for help and food. After being fired from a job (she often worked as a waitress), she made up her mind to sing for a living thinking, "This is it. My life is a mess. I have to do what I love or die." She bought a van and began working at the Innerchange Coffeehouse. Jewel spent her time surfing and writing songs and eventually attracted a sizable crowd to her shows. Five months later, at 19, she signed a record contract with Atlantic and released Pieces of You in February 1995. She worked very hard over the next year to promote her album, and toured for days on end. A year later, sales of Pieces of You took off; it has sold over four million copies. Jewel now has a house in San Diego and tours much of the year.

• When will the new album be out?

Her newest album, "Spirit", was released not all that long ago.  Rumor has it that she won't be back in the recording studio until next March to start recording her next album.

• What's Jewel's real name?

Jewel Kilcher. She has no middle name. In an interview, she said she didn't include her last name on the album because it 'cluttered it up'. So, she was not making an conscious effort to eliminate her last name or to be known only as 'Jewel'. If you have seen Jewel's yearbook photo on the web you will notice her name is spelled 'Juel'. This is something she experimented with for a brief period of time while in high school.

• Who are Jewel's musical influences?

Jewel's musical tastes are varied and her influences broad. Notable influences include Ella Fitzgerald, John Prine, Tracy Chapman, Yma Sumac and San Diego-based band The Rugburns (whose lead vocalist Steve Poltz co-wrote several songs with Jewel, two of which, Adrian and You Were Meant for Me, appear on Pieces of You). At various times, Jewel has mentioned the poet Pablo Naruda, Dr. Seuss, and classical philosophers.

• What's the story behind Pieces of You, Jewel's debut album?

Jewel recorded Pieces of You way back in 1995 in both a studio and at the Innerchange Coffee House in San Diego. The original plan was to sell 30,000 copies, but Pieces Of You has sold well over five million copies.

• How did Jewel learn to play the guitar?

Jewel never had a single guitar lesson. She taught herself, and watched other people who showed her a chord or two or a riff.

• Is Jewel single?

Jewel has had a steady relationship with French-Canadian model Michel Francoeur. It has also been rumored that she was linked with Sean Penn, but they are just friends. She dated Steve Poltz (the lead singer of the San Diego group, The Rugburns, that often tour with Jewel) for awhile. He can be seen in the 'You Were Meant For Me' video (He said in concert that he's the one who looks like he's 'strung out on heroin in the video'). He also co-wrote the song.

• What is Jewel's philosophy about drugs?

Jewel does not do drugs. She also does not smoke. She smoked once before a concert and got very, very sick and learned her lesson. While in Mexico, local police offered her pot, but she refused. She tells this story in her concerts and adds the she and the members of the Rugburns were carrying pounds of pot for the cops and she didn't even smoke it. She added, "Isn't it Ironic?"

• Is 'Daddy' about Jewel's father?

'Daddy' is not about Jewel's father. She wrote it about a friend's father who whould not let his children watch television shows with black cast members.

• How can I contact Jewel?

Pieces of You has the address listed in it. Jewel does get mail sent to that address, but your chances of getting a response are very slim. Generally, the mail is printed out and sent to Jewel wherever she is on the road. She enjoys getting mail, but is generally a poor correspondent 'I don't even write to my father', she claimed. Jewel also told her mom that when it comes to choosing between writing fan mail and writing songs there's no contest! You can also contact her via snail mail at P.O. Box 33494 San Diego, CA 92613-3494. FYI - Jewel has stated on several occasions that instead of sending her gifts she would prefer that you make a donation to charity in her name and yours.

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