Music

In concert, Jewel remains a diamond in the rough

Madeleine Marr
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

There's nothing fancy about Jewel's concerts. That's not the way she rolls.

"It's just me and my guitar," says the country-folk-pop singer from Durham, N.C., a stop on her tour. "I don't do set lists. Every show is different."

Besides playing favorites like "You Were Meant For Me," "Hands" and "Foolish Games" as well as stuff off the new album, "Lullaby," she tells stories and interacts with the audience. You may even hear how the hit "Who Will Save Your Soul" came to be. The single is from 1995's "Pieces of You," which became one of the best-selling debut albums of all time, going platinum 12 times.

On her inspiration for the popular tune: "I wanted to hitchhike to Mexico for spring break — like all parents want their kids to do — and hoboed by train. We'd get off and watch the people walk by."

The first time Jewel heard "Soul" on the radio, she pulled over her car and cried — but not out of pride. "I sounded like Kermit the Frog. I was so nervous, and my throat tightened up — it was embarrassing," admits the 35-year-old former street performer, adding, "Embarrassing all the way to the bank."

The Alaska native, who is married to rodeo star Ty Murray, doesn't have vocal problems anymore.

"I'll do 17 shows in 17 days. I really have a strong voice," says Jewel (last name: Kilcher). "I've sung all my life and know my voice inside and out. I think what a lot of people experience is psychosomatic."

But she has no issue with today's pop singers who have "technical assistance."

"I think the young artists push themselves too hard," she says. "I can't imagine dealing with the pressure and scrutiny they deal with on a daily basis. Whether you're a small artist or a phenomenon, nothing's easy, nothing's free."

Jewel and Murray keep to themselves on their Texas ranch, staying out of the Hollywood fray.

"I'm not in the tabloids. I've never lived a very salacious life or left a party coked out with no underwear."

Safe to say she never will. "People always ask me about Paris Hilton. I wouldn't trade places with her for anything."

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