Singer-songwriter Stevie Jewel feels like she’s finally hit her stride. The musician, who says her style “rides the line between southern rock and country, kind of like a Shania Twain-Carrie Underwood-Alanis Morissette kind of sound,” didn’t come into her own until recently.
“I went to a performing arts high school and I majored in theatre because they had a choir option but not vocal,” she said. “I never really found my stride. I was there four years and I only got one chorus position the whole time. It was very defeating.”
In her senior year, she did have a song – One Last Kiss – land on the Billboard Dance Chart, but it still didn’t feel right. “It was crazy. I was performing in L.A., I had a song on the Billboard charts, and I was going to high school and still feeling like an outcast. That’s when I realized that trying to fit into any kind of mold was never going to be a good fit for me, that I needed to do my own music.”
Jewel had wanted to be a musician from the time she could barely walk. “My brother worked at Deerhurst when Shania Twain was in the Decades show. He worked the night shift and would sleep during the day. I was close to two years old and I would pull myself up onto the couch and sing-yell into his ear. So he was getting this great Shania Twain at night and this infant trying to sing at him while he tried to sleep. So I’ve pretty much wanted to be a musician forever.”
She wrote her first song at five, but had to get her sister Vanessa to help her write it down. And the time she spent at her family’s farm here helped fuel her creativity.
“My mom is from here and my dad is from the States and they worked it so we could spend the best six months of the year here and the other half there. Being homeschooled, I spent a lot of time by myself. There was this place at my mom’s farm that had all these rocks and I had convinced myself it was a fairy city and I would spend hours and hours in the woods in this rocky, craggy little place.”
And, always, she was writing songs. After landing on Billboard, Jewel worked hard to find who she was as an artist. But it wasn’t until she started a songwriting major at Belmont University in Nashville that she finally felt like she’d found her people and her place. “l felt like I fit in. Moving to Nashville and finding people who were on that same track, being part of that community, that’s when I really hit my stride.”
When she’s not in class during the week, she spends much of her time co-writing songs – a common method in Nashville. “At first I was terrible at it – I couldn’t figure out how you could be so open with someone that typically you’ve just met and then you have to bear your soul and write a song that the entire world is going to relate to. It was really challenging.”
But it got easier. One of those co-written songs, her current single Off the Market, only took an hour to write. Others have taken up to six weeks. And in between co-writing, she writes her own songs.
“Writing is very cathartic. I write some songs that I feel a lot of people would relate to and some that are just for me. It helps me stay fresh as a writer and helps me get out what needs to be said. Some songs like that never end up seeing the light of day.”
Weekends during the school year are reserved for touring, as are the summer months. And this Friday, she’ll be playing in Huntsville for the very first time, as the opening act for Hotel California. “To play at Deerhurst, where my mom worked and my brother worked, that’s going be a very exciting time for me.”
She’ll be back in the States for two shows in Nashville and one in Missouri before embarking on an east and west coast Canadian tour, hitting Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Alberta and B.C. before returning to school in the fall. “I’ve found this cool balance (for the summer) – I have a blog about being a touring musician and that’s been taking off, and then the music fills up the majority of my time. Between those two I already have my hands full. So going back to school in the fall, where is that going to fit?” laughed Jewel.
Jewel’s minor is in music business and views her career as one as an independent entrepreneur. Her mom, Cheryl Wilson, is her business advisor. “I’m only one person and I can only do so much in a day, so we split up the tasks that need to be done. I know a lot of people refer to that as a ‘momager’ but she was never that stage mom. It’s awesome working with her. Yes, we’re related. We run a business together.”
Watch for a new single and video in the fall. And when Jewel graduates in a year? Expect more of the same, just bigger.
Learn more about Stevie Jewel on her website here.
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