From homeless to superstar, singer Jewel’s road to fame

Jewel on being discovered in music while homeless

Singer Jewel Kilcher on the challenges she faced growing up and achieving success in the music business on her own terms.

Singer Jewel joined the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo to share her journey in the music industry.

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The Alaskan-born singer and songwriter said  it all started as a kid, where she would sing in bars with her father to make money.

“I'm sort of what people would call a junk bond kid. Nobody would invest in me. As a human, as a child. My mom left when I was eight. My dad had a lot of trauma from his own childhood, and then went to Vietnam and picked up a lot more trauma. And when my mom left, he suddenly found himself a single father and was incredibly anxious, and turned to drinking to try and calm that anxiety, and he became abusive when I was eight,” she said.

So at 15 years old, she moved out to pursue a career, but her journey wasn’t easy.

“I did pretty good for the three years. I got myself through school, I graduated, I paid rent, I worked jobs. And then when I was 18, I was living in San Diego to take care of my mother who was sick, and a boss propositioned me, and when he wouldn't – when I didn't sleep with him, he fired me without giving me my paycheck. And I couldn't pay my rent that month, and we got kicked out. Started living in my car, thinking it would only last a couple months. But then the car I was living in got stolen,” she said.

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After a near death bout with a kidney infection, the “Never Broken” author’s car was stolen and she became homeless.

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“It's very dehumanizing to be homeless. It was in San Diego, which is a nicer place to be homeless, I guess, than Alaska or Chicago, or something like that, where it's really cold,” she said. “It was pleasant weather, at least, which was nice and made that easier. But you're really reduced to being animals. You worry about food, shelter, safety, and water 24/7. You're an animal. You're just stuck on survive.”

But it was while she was homeless that the four-time Grammy nominated singer and songwriter was discovered.

“The record labels didn't realize that I was homeless. A bootleg of mine ended up on the radio, and all these labels started coming down. It was like being Cinderella in the pumpkin. I was offered a million-dollar signing bonus,” she said.

Even though she turned it down, the move saved her career, she said.

“I was going to make a folk record at the height of grunge. I knew it probably wouldn't be successful. And I cared about my authenticity much more than I cared about being famous or rich. I wanted the opportunity to do something I loved everyday, and I knew with my emotional baggage, my baggage and my background, if you add fame into the mix, it should lead to just self-implosion and self-destruction,” she said.

Today, Jewel is keeping herself busy; She has a partnership with Zappos and is working with a Vegas-based foundation called Aspiring Children. She plans to hit the road again for her first Christmas tour this year.   

 

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