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Jewel Gives Private Performance Downtown

SDM sits down for a follow-up to our May interview with the singer/songwriter and enjoys some great music in the process
Robert Benson

By Kimberly Cunningham

Singer/songwriter Jewel Kilcher gave an intimate 200-person performance at the U.S. Grant on Thursday, September 25.

In case you’re wondering if you missed the chance to buy tickets, she appeared at a private event for Starwood Preferred Guests only, as part the hotel chain’s Hear The Music, See the World concert series. Who knew you could use your points for insider-y stuff like that? Sounds pretty cool. Sign up for the program here.

Jewel Gives Private Performance Downtown

Jewel Gives Private Performance Downtown

Robert Benson

Back to Jewel. San Diego Magazine was invited to come and interview the singer/songwriter who was discovered here in San Diego some 20 years ago. We’d just published a feature-length interview in May issue, written by Gerry Strauss. This sounded like a great opportunity for a follow-up.

We asked her about the upcoming companion album to her first record, Pieces of You. It’s been recorded, but the release date has not been set.

“I wanted it to be really raw, the way that first one was,” she says. To achieve this, Jewel recorded a lot of the songs live, or by bringing all the musicians into the studio and recording with one mic in one take, “like they did in ‘50s.”

Jewel is producing the album on her own, without a record label. Right now, there are about 30 to 40 songs that she wants to include. Some go back to her coffee shop days, songs that didn’t make the cut for Pieces of You, but ones fans will know.

She’s also in the process of writing a book, a memoir of sorts. She hopes to release both at the same time. “It’s a practical how-to for anyone who wants to be the architect of their own lives,” Jewel explains. “I know when I left home at age 15 I should have ended up dead in a ditch somewhere.” But she didn’t. And with this book, she aims to help the other dreamers like her.

Following the interview, we stayed for the show. As a native San Diegan, who went through high school during Jewel’s rise to fame, I was immediately transported back in time. I spent a lot of nights at coffee shops listening to her sing and chatting with her afterwards about poetry and songwriting.

She went on to have a long career. And after brief detours into country and pop, Jewel has finally gone back to her folk singing roots, the stuff that made my generation fall in love with her twenty years ago. She played a lot of songs from Pieces of You, including “Foolish Games,” “You Were Meant for Me,” and “Morning Song.” She played some news ones, too.

And as I sat there, still captivated, after all this time, I couldn’t help but what wonder what is about her that is so enchanting.

Jewel Gives Private Performance Downtown

Jewel Gives Private Performance Downtown


Yes, her voice is extraordinary, that explosive range and haunting breathy whisper thing she does. Then there’s the yodeling. Of course, she is so beautiful—and ever so slightly imperfect, with her famed crooked teeth.

But it was more than crooked teeth that got us to flock to her shows around San Diego, bringing her flowers, writing her letters, and memorizing her songs by heart.

I realize now that she was roughly our same age, but seemed much older and wiser. She was so vulnerable, and exposed her heartache in such an honest way. And, although most of us had never been homeless or hitchhiked across America, we related to her, in the same way that, forgive me for saying this, today’s younger generation relates to Taylor Swift.

Back then we felt pain, sad about some boy, or some petty rumor, or other miniscule offense that felt catastrophic at the time. And Jewel got it, and sang about it.

As adults, we still have heartaches. The stakes are just bigger.

I think that’s why Pieces of You went on to sell 15 million copies. People were mesmerized by that young girl with a lot of raw pain. We’re happy to report that she’s still there today. Just a little more grown-up.

Keep an eye out for the follow-up album. And read more about it and her upcoming book here.

Jewel Gives Private Performance Downtown

Robert Benson

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