Speaking with … Jewel

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
July 12, 2002

When Jewel performs cuts from her latest album, “This Way,” at the Chicago Theatre this Sunday, don’t expect the singer to strap on her electric guitar. Her collarbone and ribs are still tender from when she was thrown from a colt at her boyfriend’s ranch in April.

“[The accident] hasn’t really inhibited my show a lot,” Jewel says. “Touring Europe was a little painful ’cause the ribs were still tender. But it didn’t get in the way of the show. It just wasn’t a lot of fun.”

She’ll strap on the acoustic guitar for the first part of the set.

“I have to put more shoulder [movement] into it when I play electric,” she says. “I’m not ready for that yet.”

Much has happened since 1995, when Jewel’s debut album “Pieces of You” slowly climbed the album charts, making her a bona fide rock star. Her folksy voice, endearing yodel and all-American girl good looks won her a die-hard fan base that is there for her regardless of how well her songs are doing on radio of MTV.

She’s doing her part to give back to other artists who haven’t been as fortunate.

“I started this thing called Soul City Cafe [www.soulcitycafe.com] to showcase talented artists who may never get recognition otherwise,” says Jewel, 28. “I think if Tom Waits was trying to get signed today, it wouldn’t happen. This is my way of giving unsigned bands a chance to get a fan base going.

“I’m very fortunate that I have about 10,000 fans who are members of street teams and they call and request my songs. The reason I debuted in the Top 10 is because of them. I don’t have to rely on radio as much.”

For the past three years, Jewel has been dating champion rodeo cowboy Ty Murray. He is the latest of her boyfriends who has a starring role in her videos. He plays her romantic lead in “Standing Still.” When she and Sean Penn were dating, the actor directed the video for “You Were Meant for Me.” After the two broke up, she had a second version made starring her ex-boyfriend Steve Poltz, who co-wrote the song with her.

Besides penning a string of books, Jewel made a strong acting debut three years ago in Ang Lee’s “Ride with the Devil.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a better coach than Ang,” she says. “I like all types of film genres–comedy, drama, whatever. But it has to be a well-written story that’s complete.”

Right now, she’s producing a film called “Wave,” which includes a small role for herself.

“I like acting, but I can wait for the right part,” Jewel says. “Luckily, I have a good day job.”

HERE’S WHAT ELSE JEWEL HAD TO SAY:

What she’s reading: A trilogy written for children, but with religious and spiritual implications. It’s beautiful. I can’t remember what it’s called right now, though. I’m also reading Seabiscuit [by Laura Hillenbrand] because I have a friend who’s a horse wrangler.

Why have your boyfriend co-star in your video? It was fun to have some chemistry with the guy I was kissing. It was nice not having to kiss a model.

Favorite on-the-road food: It’s kind of the whatever you can get type of thing. I haven’t eaten a hamburger in a long time. I eat a lot of fish. I used to eat pizza, but I don’t like a lot of cheese now. It’s one of those things that’s not too professional to eat ’cause the cheese isn’t that great for my voice.

Thoughts on marriage: I never think about it.

Bungee jumping or sky diving? I would never do either.

Most memorable Chicago experience: I remember playing week after week at a small club when I was about 20 years old. It was before my songs got popular and that’s how my fan base built [in Chicago]. Some of those fans still come out to my shows.

Favorite Chicago souvenir: I try to get those little fridge magnets with the Chicago skyline. They’re terrible gifts but they’re better than a bunch of dried up flowers.

Favorite Chicago sports team: I’ve been to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs play. [Steve] Poltz took me there. It’s his church. He explained the game to me and got teary eyes. I even ate a hot dog there, though I hate hot dogs.

 

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