Renowned singer-songwriter Jewel carved out a distinctive path in the music industry, venturing into the genres of folk, pop, country, opera and blues. With over 30 million albums sold and four Grammy nominations under her belt, including her hugely successful debut, “Pieces of You,” she made an indelible mark on the music scene. Though current appearances may make it seem otherwise, Jewel’s path to success has not been easy.

Raised in the rugged wilderness of Homer, Alaska, Jewel faced hardships from an early age. The divorce of her parents and her father’s battle with alcoholism led to abuse, casting a shadow over her childhood. Jewel famously lived in her car while struggling to make ends meet in San Diego, performing at local coffee shops to survive. The burgeoning local music scene attracted the attention of music executives, who recognized Jewel’s raw talent and the rest is musical history.

Behind the scenes, Jewel grappled with severe anxiety, panic attacks, and agoraphobia. Her journey was fraught with more obstacles including the embezzlement of millions of dollars by her mother. Tragedy struck again when her longtime bass player passed away suddenly, pushing Jewel to the brink of mental collapse.

Still, her earnest approach to life has always centered on the notion that ‘hard wood grows slowly.’ Motivated by a dedication to mental health, she pulled herself up by her bootstraps. As a result, Jewel spent the last few years making inroads in the mental health arena. Recently, she initiated her second annual #NotAloneChallenge, aiming to offer accessible mental health resources to the wider community. This endeavor has raised over $3 million in support of Inspiring Children Foundation, a nonprofit she established with her partner Ryan Wolfington to provide educational and mental health assistance to disadvantaged youth. “About 22 years ago, my partner Ryan Wolfington and I wanted to see if we could find a nonprofit for mental health solutions directed at kids and ways to help them,” said Jewel, who continues to serve as chief strategy officer. “We are really proud of having one of the highest rates in the world of helping kids with suicidal ideation.”

Back when she was homeless, Jewel developed exercises to support her mental health. Despite having a deep passion for philosophy, she found that it was not enough to simply drop anchor into the theoretical. “I am a big fan of behavioral tools,” Jewel says. “If you are not changing your behavior, your life will not change. You should have goals with your therapist. Your happiness is your responsibility.”

With that in mind, Jewel co-founded InnerWorld with Noah Robinson. It’s a virtual mental health environment that provides round-the-clock, anonymous peer-to-peer support. The platform is staffed by guides trained in Cognitive Behavioral Immersion, a therapeutic approach designed to tackle depression and anxiety. InnerWorld was born out of my wanting to create a scalable model that solved the bottleneck that the mental industry is facing.” To this point, the artist is involved with The Foundation Reserve Wine & Social Club, an endeavor founded by Dr. George Rapier III, committed to increasing access to mental health tools. This year Jewel is deeply involved in the organization’s #NotAlone Dinner Series held in Las Vegas, Miami, Italy, New York and Aspen that will feature intimate musical performances as well as conversations with top CEOs and leaders all aimed to raise funds and awareness about the importance of accessible mental health resources.

These days, Jewel appears to be in an artistic renaissance. In 2022, she released the album “Freewheelin’ Woman” and later this year she’ll embark on a US tour, co-headlining with Melissa Etheridge. The two have known each other since the 1990s and are set to rock their cross-country excursion. “I’ve been trying to get someone to share a band and crew with me for 25 years,” Jewel says of Etheridge. “She’s the first person who’s taken me up on it! I’m stoked.”

She is also about to unveil “The Portal: An Art Experience by Jewel,” an installation at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Arkansas. Set to debut in May, the fully immersive endeavor features one-of-a-kind, 200-piece aerial drone shows choreographed by Jewel and set to an original score by the artist; and a meditative art walk featuring her never-before-seen paintings and sculptures. Busier than ever, one can surmise that one of the motivating factors pushing Jewel out of her comfort zone may be the very diverse legion of fans who stuck by her during the peaks and valleys of her sweeping career.

“I think back to the time when I was living in my car and those fans who showed up and cooked for me and brought me books to read,” added Jewel, and with so much emphasis on giving back, it is likely that the idea of supporting her fan base has been a motivator. “I have conservative fans. I have gay fans. Wildly diverse. Underneath, you can find a lot of commonalities, and I really try to focus on that.”


Altruism aside, these days, Jewel appears to be in an artistic renaissance. In 2022, she released the album Freewheelin’ Woman and later this year she’ll embark on a US tour, co-headlining with Melissa Etheridge.

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