The silence in last week’s editorial meeting was deafening. The arts editor had just introduced the assignment of the concert preview for Jewel, and nary a one of the hipsters populating the room fessed up to an interest in the topic. After a few uncomfortable moments, I threw out the lame observation that Jewel is, at the very least, a sweet antidote to the prevailing boob-job-and-one-dance-move package delivered by the bulk of young female pop stars.
That remark earned me the honors, so here is what I know about Jewel after listening to her latest album and spending some time on a few web sites:
Jewel has a beautiful voice. But you already knew that.
Jewel can yodel. You probably knew that too.
Jewel writes her own songs. That’s good for a serious bump on the respect-o-meter.
Jewel is a flat-out babe. But she has snaggly teeth, which just end up enhancing her visual charm. As does the fact that she hasn’t had them fixed.
Jewel is the pride of Homer, Alaska, along with Tom Bodet, author and the voice of Motel 6. Her first solo gig, in fact, came in 1989 on Bodet’s popular “End of the Road” show on Alaska’s public radio.
She is involved with rodeo legend Ty Murray, and earlier this year broke her collarbone while being thrown from a horse on his ranch.
Jewel writes poetry. And while much of it is uneven, she clearly pours herself into her verse, unabashed and righteous. She writes about teeth (“I saw a woman/whose teeth were/straight like/white picket fences/until she looked/at her husband-/then they looked like/shattered windows”), and she displays a surprising grittiness (“Women who suck/their cigarettes/as though they were/giving their/hatred head.”). She sings about “ta-tas on the TV.”
Jewel’s first album, Pieces of You, has gone platinum 11 times over. That makes it one of the highest selling albums ever by a female artist.
She and her mother have launched Higher Ground for Humanity, a non-profit group whose mission is to “promote human excellence by pioneering what it means to be a human being in the highest sense, inspiring new possibilities for humanity.” A grounded example of that nebulous purpose is the Clearwater Project, an ambitious attempt to facilitate clean drinking water for all the peoples of the world.
Her righteous streak extends to her music; in “Jesus Loves Me,” from the new record, she seethes that “they say abortion will send you straight to a fiery hell/that is if the fanatics don’t beat Satan to the kill/it’s not what I can do for anybody/it’s what their body can do for me.”
Yes, Jewel is a righteous babe. And I think I’ve developed a crush on her.