Jewel has opened up about her childhood trauma and the abusive behavior by her mother that continued well into her adult years.
In an interview on the Verywell Mind podcast with licensed therapist Amy Morin, the 48-year-old singer, whose tour bus caught fire in August, discussed her journey to better mental health.
The artist was born Jewel Kilcher in Payson, Utah in 1974.
Her parents, Atz, 75, who is a star of the reality show Alaska: The Last Frontier, and Lenedra Carroll, 67, moved Jewel and her older brother, Shane, to Alaska shortly after her birth, where they lived on large homestead with no electricity or plumbing.
‘My mom and dad got divorced when I was eight, and we went to live with my dad,’ she explained. ‘Nobody told me it’s because my mom didn’t want to be a mom. She left us, and so my dad took over raising us. I didn’t know that at the time.’
Traumatic childhood: Jewel, 48, has opened up about her traumatic childhood and the abusive behavior by her mother that continued well into her adult years on the Verywell Mind podcast with licensed therapist Amy Morin (Pictured in New York in February 2023)
‘My dad was this volatile alcoholic that hit me, very easy to identify “bad guy.” My mom seemed like the opposite. She was calm, she was soft, she never yelled, obviously never hit me. And I didn’t realize I was being abused in another way at the time,’ she said.
Jewel said when she would go to her mom for support, she would find ways to ignore Jewel, without the girl knowing.
‘Let’s say when I would show up on her doorstep, she would say, “Your mind is so powerful. Our minds are only tap, we use like 10% of our brain power. Our minds are so powerful and I think you, Jewel, are so powerful that I think you could sit here and stare at this light bulb and you might be able to get it to turn off with your mind.”‘
Looking back, the Who Will Save Your Soul singer said, at the time, those interactions made her ‘feel loved.’ It wasn’t until much later she discovered, ‘What it actually was was my mom didn’t want to stay there and be with me, and she babysat me by having me watch light bulbs. So sometimes the appearance of an attached figure isn’t what it seems.’
The You Were Meant for Me singer began performing at an early age. She and her father would yodel and sing in roadhouses and taverns to earn money.
‘I was bar singing as an eight year old. I was around predators, I had a very scary life. I had a very terrifying life. And I had a life where adults weren’t safe people, being in connection to people wasn’t safe.’
It was Jewel’s talent that enabled her to get out of the bars. She won a partial scholarship to study operatic voice at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. Her hometown of Homer rallied around here, holding an auction to raise the remainder of the money.
Abuse: The singer said her father, Atz, ‘was this volatile alcoholic that hit me.’ She said her mother, Lenedra, left the family when she was eight ‘because my mom didn’t want to be a mom’ (Pictured in New York in May 2003)
Embezzled: Jewel was in contact with her mom after the success of her 12-times platinum debut album Pieces of You and subsequent works.’I didn’t really realize what my mom was until I was 30-something. I woke up and realized she embezzled all of my money, over $100 million’
She learned guitar while studying at the music school and moved to San Diego after graduating.
There, she lived in a van while writing songs and performing. She paid the bills by working in a coffee shop and as a telephone operator at a computer company until she was discovered.
Her debut album, Pieces of You, skyrocketed to success, becoming a 12-times platinum record.
The artist’s second collection of songs, Spirit, debuted on the Billboard 200 in third place, but did not go on to have the same success as Pieces of Me.
Jewel’s mother was close enough to have access to the singer’s finances.
‘I didn’t really realize what my mom was until I was 30-something. I woke up and realized she embezzled all of my money, over $100 million,’ she admitted.
Helping others: Jewel helped create the non-profit, Inspiring Children in the early 2000s, which includes the singer’s free in person and online mental health program, Jewel Never Broken (Pictured in Salt Lake City in February 2023)
Survival techniques: Via the Jewel Never Broken program the artist shares survival techniques she taught herself to overcome anxiety and depression
’34 years old, realize I’m $3 million in debt, realize my mom stole it, realize everything I thought my mom was isn’t what she was, very difficult psychological thing to come to terms with.’
To help vulnerable kids and teens, Jewel helped create the non-profit, Inspiring Children in the early 2000s, which includes the singer’s free in person and online mental health program, Jewel Never Broken.
The program includes survival techniques the artist taught herself to overcome anxiety and depression.
Jewel often speaks about the importance of good mental health on her personal social media account and on the Inspiring Children and Never Broken accounts.
The MTV Music Award winner recently launched a new mental health app, Innerworld.
Mental health: Jewel often speaks about the importance of mental health on her personal social media accounts and on her Inspiring Children and Never Broken pages
New app: The MTV Music Award winner recently launched a new free mental health app, Innerworld. Jewel will lead a series of events, including how to use anxiety as an ally and teaching a course on the topic of emotional dyslexia
Helpful: The hitmaker said the Innerworld app is helpful to anyone who may be struggling, regardless of their background. ‘It doesn’t mean they’re broken either. There’s so many tools and things we can do to help ourselves with a little bit of guidance’
The free platform offers peer-to-peer support groups in the virtual world where users are able to interact as avatars, along with 100 weekly events.
Jewel will lead a series of events, including how to use anxiety as an ally and teaching a course on the topic of emotional dyslexia and how she’s personally overcome emotional challenges.
‘I didn’t have a safe figure (growing up)’ she explained. ‘But that’s also why I formed our youth foundation, is because there’s real hope for kids like that.’
The hitmaker said the app is helpful to anyone who may be struggling, regardless of their background.
‘It doesn’t mean they’re broken either. There’s so many tools and things we can do to help ourselves with a little bit of guidance.’
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