IF YOU GO
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009
Where: Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 8099 College Parkway, Fort Myers
Admission: $26.50 to $46.50
Information: (239) 481-4849, www.bbmannpah.com
“Pieces of You” (1995)
“Joy: A Holiday Collection” (1999)
“This Way” (2001)
“Goodbye Alice in Wonderland” (2006)
“Pefectly Clear” (2008)
For Jewel Kilcher, 35, getting up on stage by herself is the purest form expression.
She’s alone with a guitar, a microphone and her songs.
“I love doing it,” she says. “Every night is different. Every night that’s who I am.”
Kilcher, better known simply as Jewel, got her start singing at clubs and coffee shops. So her solo acoustic tour, which stops on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009, at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, is a return to form.
Jewel says she tours by herself in between full-band tours to connect with her fans. They often bring her printed-out lyrics of their favorite non-album Jewel songs, in case she forgets the words.
“I’ve got hundreds of songs I’ve never recorded,” she says. “But people have heard them on bootlegs and they request them. And if I don’t know the words, more than often they are singing them for me.”
Few embody the rag- to-riches story as well as Jewel. She was famously living in her van just up until “Who Will Save Your Soul?” became one of the ubiquitous songs of the summer of 1996. That song, along with follow up singles “You Were Meant for Me” and “Foolish Games,” propelled her “Pieces of Me” album to 12 million sales.
“I always wanted a career like John Prine or Tom Waits, singers I really admired,” she says. “I just wanted a cult following. I never set out for anything more. But I got rich on my first album.”
While she managed to write enough radio tracks to stay somewhat on the pop music radar for close to a decade, the last few years have seen her fade from the popular consciousness. Last year she released a country album, to mixed reviews and middling results. In May, she self-released, in conjunction with Fisher Price, an album of lullabies, appropriately titled “Lullaby.”
Despite its main distribution point being toy aisles stocked with Fisher-Price products and its spot at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Kid Audio chart, Jewel swears the album isn’t a children’s record. Swears to the point of bristling.
“It’s a not a kids’ album. It’s a mood album,” she says. “I’ve been writing these since I was 16 as a way to calm myself down. I would sing them to myself to make me feel better.”
They were the most comfort to her when she was homeless, she says. After leaving home at age 15, Jewel bounced around the country getting jobs performing wherever she could. Even now, when she’s feeling upset, she says she sings these songs to improve her mood.
“I’m an adult and I like these songs, so I figured other adults would like them too,” she says.
The album was her first in the world of independent music production, a process she relished. She says she never felt pressure during her career as a major label star, but the freedoms that come from limited expectations are intoxicating.
“(Independent music making) really suits me,” she says. “I love the idea of putting out more records to fans. I’ve always been really prolific as a songwriter.”
With five albums worth of material floating around in her songbooks, Jewel expects to be plenty busy recording and releasing albums for the foreseeable future. She expects the next album to be again marketed to a country music audience.
But that’s just a label, she says.
“At the core my songs are still the same,” she says. “Growing up I loved Lorretta Lynn and Joni Mitchell. They were both just singing about their experiences as a woman. That’s what I’m doing. Whether it’s pop or folk or country, that’s all just dressing.”
Connect with Jonathan Foerster at www.naplesnews.com/staff/jonathan_foerster