Jewel is the granddaughter of Ruth, an aspiring opera singer who left pre-war Germany, got on a ship headed to Alaska to marry Yule Kilcher because she felt her future children must be born somewhere free. Ruth taught all her 8 children to sing and play instruments.
Jewel and her father, Atz Kilcher, became a duo when Jewel was 8. He trained her well and she practiced for hours a day to sing good harmony and learn his songs. He stressed punctuality and being professional. When she was 15, she moved out on her own to a cabin not far from her dad's. It had one room and no water, no plumbing, and she worked several jobs. She rode a horse 12 miles into town for work and left her horse at her aunt's place then hitch-hiked the rest of the way.
At 15, she applied to a fine arts school in Michigan and was accepted on a partial scholarship. She raised the rest of the money by doing her first solo show ever at the local high school in the auditorium. Her home town of Homer raised $11,000 during that concert. After her graduation, Jewel drifted. She kept writing songs, and started singing in a local coffee shop and developed a loyal following. Soon, there was a bidding war between several labels for Jewel, and she went with the label that didn't want her to change and let her be a simple songwriter.
After 12 million records sold, she's traveled the world to sing at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II, tour and sing with Bob Dylan, sing with BB King in England, and again in the White House for President Clinton. Jewel says that her life "has exceeded any expectation I ever held for myself. I never thought a storyteller in today's day and age would be able to go so far."