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Jewel Wants You to Be Present

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She was offered a $1 million “signing bonus” by almost every major label, she said, an “extraordinary” deal at the time. She turned it down because she feared being dropped by the label if she didn’t sell enough records. “That ended up saving my career for a long time, for many years, because it was a failure for many years,” she said of “Pieces of You.”

Jewel’s mother, Lenedra Carroll, became her manager. In a 2015 book, she wrote that the arrangement left her worse off. “I had been nearly broke three different times in my career, which I never knew,” Jewel said. “And, it was all gone and I was in debt.” She said hasn’t seen her mother since 2002.

In May 1995, Jewel opened a set for Bob Dylan in San Diego. She made a second album that was never released. While she was in the studio, Dylan’s team reached out to get Jewel to open for him on tour. Back then, Jewel was far from famous, despite “Who Will Save Your Soul” getting moderate MTV rotation and radio play. But she’d join him in April 1996 and would later find out that despite not thinking he had noticed her in San Diego, her yodeling caught his attention.

“He mentored me, he went over my lyrics with me, gave books to read and music to listen to, and it just came at that exact right time when nobody believed in me,” she said. After touring with Dylan, Neil Young took Jewel under his wing, too. Nearly two years later, “Pieces of You” started to gain momentum.

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“They both just drilled into my head that if you’re an artist you better suck it up. You don’t have to cater to radio, you don’t have to cater to anything, but what you believe is in your heart and you better fight for it and it really just invigorated me,” Jewel said.

In recent years, a video clip of her and Jessica Simpson singing “Who Will Save Your Soul?” has become a viral success, with some mirth about their different voices. “I’ll let people make their own opinions of that one,” Jewel said. “She was a fan and really liked that song and asked me to sing it with her. That song’s a trip. It’s interesting to see how the lyrics fit today.”


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