Jewel Kilcher (born May 23, 1974) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and poet, generally known just by her first name, Jewel. She has received three Grammy Award nominations and sold over 27 million albums worldwide.
She debuted on February 28, 1995 with the album, Pieces of You, which became one of the best selling debut albums of all time, going platinum twelve times.
Jewel was born in Payson, Utah, the daughter of Nedra Carroll, an artist and personal manager, and Atz Kilcher, an elementary school music teacher, folk singer and social worker. Her mother is of Irish descent and her father is of Swiss-German origin. She is the cousin of actress Q’Orianka Kilcher. She spent most of her young life in Homer, Alaska, living with her father. The home she grew up in did not have indoor plumbing; it had a simple outhouse instead. She and her father sometimes earned a living by singing in bars and taverns. It was from these experiences she learned to yodel, a quality demonstrated in many of her songs. Her father was a Mormon, but they stopped attending the church shortly before she turned eight. Yule Kilcher, her grandfather, was a state senator involved in drafting Alaska’s constitution for its admission into a state from a territory in 1959.
During high school, Jewel was known to spell her name “Jule” or “Juel,” but she attributes this to simply playing with her name.
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 seventeen.
For a time, she was poverty-stricken and lived in her van while traveling about 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, best-known, video for this song.) The Rugburns opened for Jewel on her Tiny Lights tour in 1997. Poltz appeared in Jewel’s band on the Spirit World Tour 1999 playing guitar.