Jewel, 41, has been acclaimed the world over for her skills as a songwriter and musician, has commanded an incredibly successful career, and has released a dozen studio albums thus far. But she still grimaces at the dark, shadowy past of the music industry that continues to haunt her today—the worst part of it all was being a little child learning the tricks of the trade, but constantly being harassed by men.
“I’ve had men hitting on me, sadly, since I was really young,” the Grammy nominee recently said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. She recounted instances where men would hand her a dime when she was as young as eight years old and say things like, “Call me. It’d be so great to f*ck when you’re older.”
This was all new for Jewel, who came from a modest background. She was brought up in a saddle barn located on a homestead in a small Kenai Peninsula town. She says the family would eat and live off whatever they could find on their own.
Jewel first started to sing at just eight years old with her dad—the father-daughter pair sang at everything from bank openings to biker bars. Then at the age of 15, she made her way to Michigan to join an arts school, paid for with a scholarship and earnings from working multiple jobs. After graduating, she wound up in San Diego, but eventually lost her job, because she refused advances from her boss.
Ending up homeless and desperate, she would spend her nights in a car and write her songs to bide time, but men would still not let her be—they’d approach her car and continue hitting on her. “I’ve never been more propositioned by businessmen in my life,” she revealed to The Hollywood Reporter. “It was almost like they were sharks that could smell blood, like of vulnerability.”
Eventually, Jewel started singing in coffee shops and no sooner she was being sought after by different labels. She aligned herself with Atlantic Records, because they let her be herself. Her coffee shop songs formed her first album, Pieces of You—it became a rage in the U.S. with more than 12 million copies sold. The album is still an all-time favorite and is regarded as one of the best ever debuts, in terms of sales.
With regards to her success, Jewel says she did it all herself and never felt the need to forsake her morals, despite the many advances from eager men. “I never slept my way to the top, ever. There was never one time I’ve ever compromised anything. I was always willing to walk away.”
Christie, J., “‘It was almost like they were sharks that could smell blood’: Jewel explains how she has fought off sexual harassment from men since she was just eight-years-old,” Daily Mail web site, September 11, 2015.