She's ultra - hip, got an unusual name, grew up in Alaska and loves to yodel! Oh, and she's one of the hottest young singers around. Nick De Cosmo talks to Jewel.
I'ts with a mixture of trepidation and irritation that I pick up the phone to speak to 23-year-old folk sensation Jewel. Trepidation because she's hugely talented, massively successful and incredibly gorgeous and is practically a household name in America. Irritation because there's about 3,000 miles of phone cable between us and I'm missing out on the chance to meet/gawp/swoon at her in the flesh. However, trans-Atlantic calls don't come cheap, so I overcome my nerves and niggles and get down to business with the lady who's already sold five million records Stateside and had her face splashed across the cover of any American magazine worth it's gloss and staples. She's also had nominations for two Grammys, been linked to a string of top celebrity blokes (Sean Penn and Calvin Klein model Antonio Sabato Jr included) has had songs on the soundtracks of Batman & Robin, The Craft and I Shot Andy Warhol, is good friends with Bob Dylan and a damn fine yodeller to boot! Not bad for a girl who was brought up in the wilds of Alaska in a log cabin with no TV, no running water and no heat except for a coal stove.
Tell us about your upbringing...
My grandfather emigrated to Alaska from Switzerland. I grew up living in a log cabin in an area where there was a lot of manual labour and not too many luxuries. I lived pretty much with all guys and there wasn't much privacy - just out-houses, you know? Not great for shaving your legs and that kind of stuff. But when you're born and raised in that environment it doesn't seem as strange at all. It was a beautiful place to grow up.
So hairdryers, heated rollers and trips to the mall weren't essentials for you as a teenager?
Erm, not really. I'm not very good at shopping anyway I'm afraid. I can't really deal with the dressing room and mirror thing. I'm pretty lucky now, though - if I have to go to an award ceremony or something, designers will send me three or four dresses a few days before and all I have to do is pick one! I'ts like Christmas!
Alaska has a very high proportion of men to women - no shortage of boyfriends then?
I suppose not, but as I said, if you grow up there you don't notice these things so much. There were some nice guys, but there were a lot of drunken Alaskan loggers, too!
Your name is beautiful...where's it from?
I'ts my mother's middle name.
You're not as well known in Britain as America (yet). How does it feel when you visit?
There shouldn't be any difference, I'm still the same person. The press have treated me better in Britain so far. I just love performing and it's great to do that anywhere in the world. When I first came to Britain I really thought nobody was going to turn up to my shows.
But you've sold over five million records!
Yeah, but I'm still just kinda starting out here. I was lucky enough to tour with Bob Dylan at a time when people weren't really taking much notice of me. He told me he liked my music and I thought, if Bob Dylan reckons it's good then it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks!
So he's a big influence then?
Neil Young and him have been very helpful to me and a big influence I suppose.
OK, before you go, tell us about the yodelling... Being from Switzerland, lots of my family yodel! I was always told I was too young to do it as a kid but used to keep trying anyway. When I was in third grade at school, the whole class was doing multiplication tables together. I don't know what happened but it just came to me and I started yodelling at the top of my voice. I got kicked out of class and they told my family that although my artistic talents were appreciated, it would be best if I expressed them at a more appropriate time!
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