Jewel’s debut album, Pieces of You, released on February 28, 1995, became one of the best-selling debut albums of all time, going 15 times platinum. One single from the album, “Who Will Save Your Soul”, peaked at number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100; two others, “You Were Meant for Me” and “Foolish Games”, reached number two and seven respectively on the Hot 100, and were listed on Billboard’s 1997 year-end singles chart. She has crossed multiple genres throughout her career. Perfectly Clear, her first country album, was released on The Valory Music Co. in 2008. 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 May 2009.
Jewel is the co-host, as well as a judge, with Kara DioGuardi on the songwriting competition reality television series Platinum Hit, which premiered May 30, 2011 on the cable network Bravo. Jewel has the vocal range of a lyric soprano.
Early yearsJewel was born in Payson, Utah. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to Homer, Alaska, where her grandfather Yule Kilcher, a delegate to the Alaska State Constitutional Convention and a state senator, had settled after immigrating from Switzerland. Yule also made the first recorded crossing of the Harding Icefield. Jewel is the cousin of actress Q’orianka Kilcher. She spent most of her young life in Homer, living with her father, Atz Kilcher. The home she grew up in did not have indoor plumbing; it had a simple outhouse instead. 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. Jewel and her father sometimes earned a living by singing in bars and taverns. It was from these experiences she learned toyodel, as demonstrated in many of her songs. Her father was a Latter-day Saint, but they stopped attending the church shortly before she turned eight.
Jewel learned to play the guitar while at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan, where she majored in operatic voice. She started writing songs at the age of 16. While at school, she would sometimes play at Ray’s Coffee House in Traverse City, Michigan.
For a time, she was poverty-stricken and lived in her van while traveling around the country doing street performances and small gigs. She gained some recognition by singing at the Innerchange Coffeehouse and Java Joe’s in San Diego, California. Her friend Steve Poltz’s band, The Rugburns, played the same venues. Jewel later collaborated with Poltz on some of her songs, including “You Were Meant for Me” (he also appeared in the second, better-known video for this song). The Rugburns opened for Jewel on her Tiny Lights tour in 1997, and Poltz appeared in Jewel’s band on the Spirit World Tour 1999 playing guitar.