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Always writing, often singing, never broken


Jewel is in a good place right now, literally and figuratively.

Speaking to Boise Weekly from Monterey, Calif., the singer said she'll make a few more stops in equally idyllic settings before coming to Boise on Thursday, May 26, where she'll play to a sold-out audience at the Egyptian Theatre.

Two days later, she'll give the keynote speech at The Sun Valley Wellness Festival.

"Wellness is giving yourself permission and finding the resources to be an unedited version of yourself," Jewel said.

She certainly didn't edit much out of her bestselling biography, Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story (Blue Rider Press, Sept. 2015).

In it, Jewel shares how she was abused as a child, was homeless at 18, lived in her car, resorted to shoplifting, became an international recording star, had an affair with Sean Penn, starred in an Ang Lee film, performed for Pope John Paul II and how, at the age of 20, lost all of her money and her mother/manager "was not the person I thought she was."

You're one of the few people on the planet known only by one name. When did you make that decision?

It was really a big deal. I had just made my first record, and the record label shipped the artwork to me. But that day, I spent a bit more time surfing and by the time I got out of the water, I missed the deadline.

I noticed that they left my last name off the album, but I didn't think my first record would be as successful as it was.

I think a lot of your fans may have thought they knew your backstory, including being homeless at such a young age, but your new book has some rather stunning revelations.

I had a very specific goal: to reach out to people who may have had their own difficult life story.

Our pain or tribulation doesn't have to make us damaged. In fact, it can help us be more exceptional if we're willing to let go of the pain and convert that into wisdom.

And is that why you titled your book, Never Broken?

I see a lot of young people struggling, saying they're broken. That's not the case. It's only a perception of being broken. It's a very difficult fire to walk through, but when you walk through it, you can be more empathetic and gracious.

You're the keynote at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival, which leads to the obvious question: what's wellness to you?

Giving permission and finding the resources to be an unedited version of yourself. Honoring all aspects of yourself.

Sometime around 2006, you wrote a very specific lyric for a song called, "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland." You wrote, "Your love can be used against you." What were you talking about?

My relationship with my mom was very facilitative, and my need for love ended up being something that created a kind of blindness in me.

Have you heard from your mother since your book was published?

No. I didn't write this about my mom. I tried to keep it all in my lane. Honestly, I don't have any hard feelings. I just wanted to share some of the things I overcame.

A few years back, you wrote that most singer/songwriters produced their best work in their 20s and novelists did their best work in their 50s. Do you still feel that way?

I think that's true generally. That's why I wanted to avoid that. I've really tried to have a career that kept my writing alive. I made choices that weren't necessarily good for fame or fortune, but good for me as an artist. Why not check back in 20 years from now and see how I stack up?