Jewel Kilcher came from what can be best described as an unusual background. She was born on May 23, 1974, to parents Atz Kilcher and Lenedra Carroll, in Payson, Utah. Her family soon moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where she grew up on an eight-hundred-acre farm. She spent her time taking care of horses, haying and working in the family's garden.
Jewel discovered her knack for writing poetry at an early age since her mom encouraged her and her two brothers, Shane and Atz Lee, to explore their creativity openly. By the time she was six years old, Jewel was performing for the local tourists with her parents.
Jewel spent her junior and senior high school years at the Interlochen Fine Arts Academy in Michigan as a voice major. After completing her education at Interlochen in 1992, she and her mother moved to San Diego, where Jewel attempted to "find herself".
She wasn't interested in pursuing higher education and had no real passion for anything besides writing poetry (or songs, depending on how you look at it). Not knowing what to do with herself, she looked for a job, but could not find anything that she wanted to do. Jewel was uncertain of what she really wanted, knowing only what she did not want to do.
She gave up on trying to work and chose to live out of a van and write songs, living off peanut butter and carrots. Songwriting was one of the few things she enjoyed at the time, so she stuck with it.
Jewel soon began writing poetry by day and rubbing elbows with local musicians by night. She began to land gigs and performed in coffeehouses at first. She finally found something she loved and realized that people enjoyed her music. She loved the feeling of bringing joy into the lives of others. She began to work with Steve Poltz and his band, The Rugburns, as well as several other local musicians.
She continued working at these small shows, until someone noticed her and mentioned her to an executive at Atlantic Records in Los Angeles. She recorded four live singles that she had written over the last few years. To promote her upcoming album, she continued to tour coffeehouses until Pieces of You was released in February 1995.
Her debut album fared reasonably well, but it wasn't until a concentrated effort and several strategic appearances that her success began to escalate. Atlantic had to make a second push for the album to get noticed. The company's perseverance and faith in Jewel's ability to achieve success paid off in the end. "Who Will Save Your Soul" made it to No.11, and "You Were Meant For Me" peaked at No.2, with the album going platinum three times over.
Jewel has since received three Grammy Award nominations, an American Music Award, and an MTV Video Music Award. Additionally, she has graced the covers of major magazines such as Time, Rolling Stone (twice), Vogue, Interview, Entertainment Weekly, People, and Details.
Meanwhile, Jewel's second album, Spirit, debuted at No.3 on the Billboard 200 in November 1998 and was certified platinum as soon as it hit the music shelves. As if that wasn't enough, Jewel's published collection of poetry, A Night Without Armor, was released in 1998 and has remained on the New York Times bestseller list. A second book is due for release by HarperCollins next year.
Jewel is a fine example of how small changes can make a big impact on one's future. With a bit of luck, self-confidence and determination, Jewel was able to turn her life into a success.