A look at Jewel’s career: From yodeling in bars to becoming a cowboy’s sweetheart to releasing a greatest hits record.
In the beginning…
Born in Utah and quickly relocating to Alaska with her family, Jewel Kilcher grew up with melody oozing from her. To help pay the bills in rural Alaska, Jewel and her father would often sing in local bars. It was during those very early years and inside those rooms that Jewel learned to yodel. She soon left Alaska to head to Michigan and go to college. It was there that the singer learned to play guitar while majoring in operatic singing.
It wasn’t long before Jewel packed up her car and headed southwest to California where, for a time, the young singer lived in her car. That very experience became the story many fans and reporters latched onto a couple of years later when the singer was atop the Billboard charts.
Used to playing in bars, Jewel found herself regularly performing in the coffee house where she also served as a barista. It was in one of those coffee houses where — in 1994, at the age of twenty — Jewel was discovered. Later that year, she was caught in the middle of a record label bidding war and ultimately, the angel-voiced girl signed to Atlantic.
In 1995, at the young age of 21, Jewel recorded her debut album, Pieces of You on the legendary Neil Young’s ranch. The record and its three major singles made Jewel a household name. Pieces of You stayed on the Billboard charts for two years. Its most famous single, “You Were Meant For Me,” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Meanwhile, her two other singles, “Foolish Games” and “Who Will Save Your Soul” made Billboard‘s list of the best songs of 1997. Jewel was a breakout success and no one was immune to her sweetness.
The next year, after a management change-up and turning things over to her mother, Jewel released her next album, Spirit, in November 1998. The record had a decidedly pop feel to it and soon rocketed to No. 2 on the Billboard charts. The album’s first single, “Hands,” made it all the way to No. 6 on the Hot 100.
After a decent reaction to her 1999 Christmas album, Joy, and a small break, Jewel set out to record yet another album in 2001. The album, This Way, peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200. The album featured “Serve the Ego, ” a song that took Jewel in a new direction when it made it all the way to a No. 1 club/dance hit.
Following the success of “Serve the Ego,” Jewel released 0304 in 2003. The album spawned the single “Intuition,” which reached No. 5 on the Adult Pop charts and 30 on the Hot 100.
Sadly, her follow-up album didn’t reach quite the same level of success. In 2006, Jewel released Goodbye Alice in Wonderland to very little fanfare. Despite mild success from its singles, the album is still one of her worst selling records. It’d be unfair, though, not to mention that 2006 was a rough year for the music industry. Physical album sales dropped 3 percent, and Goodbye Alice‘s audience wasn’t really the music-downloading kind.
The cowboy’s sweetheart
After a disappointing run with Atlantic, Jewel found herself in Nashville and looking for a new label to support her more country stylings. She released Perfectly Clear in 2008 and saw better success than ever before. The album debuted at No. 1 on the country chart and No. 8 on the Billboard 200. But the following week the album saw a major drop, and while her singles made the Billboard charts, they didn’t fare as well as most of her previous endeavors. Her song, “I Do” warranted an adorable video with her cowboy hubby, Ty Murray, though!
Her fairytale romance got the best of Jewel and the already soft-voiced singer went on to release an even more delicate album in 2009. Lullaby was primarily a children’s album, though the album also included covers of all kinds of adult favorites like “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” The album debuted at No. 1 on the Children’s chart.
Sweet and wild might be the best way to describe our little Alaskan songstress, which was exactly what she titled her follow-up album. Sweet and Wild was released in 2010 and saw mild success. The first single, “Stay Here Forever,” was also featured on the holiday rom-com Valentine’s Day and went to No. 34 on the Hot Country Songs chart. The second single, “Satisfied,” peaked at No. 51.
In 2011, Jewel delved into her motherly side again and released her second children’s album, The Merry Goes ‘Round. The album was a sweetness-packed sing-along. Then, sticking with her love for children, she went on to release her first children’s book, That’s What I’d Do. The book used the lyrics from the song (previously released on The Merry) to tell the story of what she’d do if she owned the sky and could move the clouds so that there would only ever be blue skies. The book included a CD recording of the song.
Despite the fact that Jewel isn’t even quite 40, she recently released a Greatest Hits album earlier this year. Like all greatest hits collections, the album features songs she’s previously recorded. The genuinely unique aspect of the record, though, is that she’s re-recorded the songs alongside some very heavy-hitting partners, including the Pistol Annies and Kelly Clarkson.
That’s where she is now, but we’re sure her career has a long way to go. To catch Jewel in concert, make sure to check her out when she comes to a city near you on her Greatest Hits tour.