Jewel Kilcher is one of those artists who needs only one name. Having grown up in Alaska without indoor plumbing, Jewel was “discovered” when she was performing regularly at coffee houses in San Diego and living in a van.
Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers was an early fan, calling her voice "beautiful" and "breathtaking." Meanwhile, John Hogan, lead singer for San Diego's Rust, brought Jewel to the attention of his manager Inga Vainshtein who, in turn, generated enough buzz to force a bidding war among the record labels. Atlantic Records won.
With her Pieces of You debut, Jewel made the most of the girl-with-a-guitar era of the mid 1990s. In fact, that record became one of the top-selling debuts of all time moving more than 12 million units in the U.S. over the course of the two years it worked the charts with its highest placement at number four.
“Who Will Save Your Soul” peaked at number 11 on the Billboard charts, while "You Were Meant for Me" and "Foolish Games" both made it all the way to the second seat.
During (and perhaps despite) Jewel's massive early success, she parted ways with Vainshtein and put her mother in charge of her career matters. She also switched creative directions, shifting her second album's producer from Daniel Lanois to Patrick Leonard. The resulting product was 1998's Spirit.
The sophomore effort climbed to number three on the album charts, but sold only four million copies in the U.S. The record's most successful single was “Hands” which hit number six on the Billboard Hot 100. "Jupiter (Swallow the Moon)" also emerged from the collection "What's Simple Is True."
For 1999, Jewel release Joy: A Holiday Collection. The Christmas album went platinum.
Her most critically acclaimed work came in 2001 with This Way. Though it only sold one million copies, the album's singles included "Standing Still," "Break Me," and "This Way." "Serve the Ego" actually became Jewel's first number one club hit and spurred yet another stylistic course correction.
In the liner notes of 0304, Jewel wrote, "I wanted to make a record that was a modern interpretation of big band music. A record that was lyric driven, like Cole Porter, that also had a lot of swing. And a lot of it is thanks to Lester, because when I told him I wanted to make a record that combined dance, urban, and folk music, he didn't look at me like I was crazy."
And so she did. The single “Intuition” brought in more dance-pop beats and proved a worthy formula for the singer.
Following that up in 2006 with Goodbye Alice In Wonderland, Jewel was met with mixed reviews. Though Rolling Stone tagged it a "overdone and undercooked," CMT called it “A very satisfying work, all in all." Sales were lackluster and it was Jewel's first album not to achieve gold status in short order.
Not surprisingly, another genre change followed suit. Jewel's first country album, Perfectly Clear, was released in 2008 by Valory Records. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Country Album Chart and number eight on the Billboard 200 Album Chart. Sales weren't great and fell off quickly.
Next up, in 2009, was Lullaby which Jewel described as “not just for children, but also adults.” Her rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” topped iTunes' children's chart upon its release.
The following year saw the release of the single “Stay Here Forever” as part of the film Valentine's Day. It was also the precursor for her June, 2010 album Sweet and Wild. The single debuted at number 58 on the Hot Country Songs chart, climbing up to number 34. Its successor, “Satisfied,” was released in May, just prior to the album and Jewel's subsequent summer touring schedule. One's things for sure, Jewel's name which is from the word that is singular for 'jewelry', is very fitting.