The sultry singer's life is everything she ever wanted, and it still amazes her.
Singer-songwriter Jewel Kilcher grew up in Alaska and began performing with her parents at 6; when they divorced she continued her life onstage with her father, then left at 15 for a solo career. At one point she was living in her van in San Diego and playing at a local coffee house, when local radio stations discovered her deep, pure voice and soulful poetry. Record labels started courting her. She went with the one "that didn't want me to change … against all odds my simple album [Pieces of You] went on to sell 12 million copies!" Now married to rodeo star Ty Murray and expecting their first baby this summer, Jewel is hosting Bravo's competition show Platinum Hit and releasing a children's album, The Merry Goes 'Round. We caught up with her at our August/September cover shoot. Check out our behind-the-scenes video to hear in her own words how she was feeling as she neared the finish line of her pregnancy.
It's a boy! Jewel and Ty Murray welcomed a son, Kase Townes Murray, on Monday, July 11 in Texas. Congratulations!
Fit Pregnancy: So, how are you feeling?
Jewel: I'm feeling really great, I'm enjoying pregnancy much more than I thought I would. I didn't know what to expect, you hear every story, every woman is different and you hear some horror stories, too. But I read and heard a lot that you should try to enjoy it, really is a gift and so I took it to heart. So I have really tried to enjoy it and not fret about weight gain or anything else. It is a privilege and I feel lucky that I get to do it. It's kind of sad that men don't get to experience this.
And I have looked for answers in alternative health all my life so working with a couple of really good doctors I've been able to combat a lot of the negative parts, like morning sickness. I've learned that a lot of the nausea comes from your liver and so I did things to support my liver function and it really helped.
I've been using Nature's Sunshine products. The company has great lines—its LIV-J is designed to support liver function and that helps cuts down on the nausea. I worked with Ellen Tart-Jensen, she's the daughter-in-law of a famous doctor, Bernard Jensen, and Kimberly Balasa—both are doctors of naturopathy. If you can, it's really worthwhile to do it—you have to make sure your care provider is very qualified in supplements and herbs and nutrition. Kimberly goes off blood work, and my levels are all doing great. Naturopathic doctors are the wave of the future, I believe they helped me get and stay pregnant.
Constipation is another problem a lot of pregnant women have and I was concerned but I've been taking a magnesium complex, which is so much better than taking an artificial stool softener. It's also calming. I also have been taking a combination calcium/magnesium complex for nighttime cramps. I did get anemic and used an herbal supplement—Floradix. It was great because it doesn't constipate you or make you queasy. And I don't mind the taste.
FP: Do you like being pregnant?
Jewel: Well, I've gotten big now, but you know what surprised me is how much I have enjoyed dressing while pregnant, I've found really cute clothes and I dress up more now than I did before. It's really fun.
FP: What was it like when you found out that you were pregnant?
Jewel: We were very excited. We were ecstatic when it happened. I was working on the Platinum Hit show when we found out—so I was working these long days with a cool little secret.
FP: What has changed the most for you since you got pregnant?
Jewel: I've always been a workhorse, and I've been supporting myself since I was 15. I enjoy hard work, I love setting goals and achieving them. So I've had to learn to slow it down and get some rest, which I haven't minded. I'm in a good position to do that, to do work at home on my projects, writing my children's album. My husband and I have kept a good balance between the work and the rest, I feel so lucky having a job and I know so may people who focus too much on work and their home lives suffer. I wanted to make sure that didn't happen to me, so I've worked hard to maintain a balance. I'm not just thinking about how to get more famous and rich every day, My doctors told me to slow down while I was trying to get pregnant, too, and I think that played a big part. And had to tell the label that I wasn't going to tour for the new album and they were amazed. You know, you just don't do that. But you have to make a choice and figure out the life you want, and it has been fun. I do have to say that the first trimester I still worked really hard, but the second I stayed home and wrote the children's album.
FP: Tell us about the new album.
Jewel: It's called The Merry Goes 'Round, and I wrote it for my baby. I tried to write songs with lessons in them and also songs that children would like to hear. Comes out in August. Some of the songs talk about conquering fears like when you think you hear something in the closet but it's only shadows. There's a song about a bird and a tree who are best friends, and the lesson is the comfort you get from friendship. And just storytelling songs, like Sammy the Spider who wants to move—the adventure he encounters—silly cute stories. And I tried to write them in a way that parents would enjoy as well, instead of just tolerating them.
FP: You've gone from being homeless to being a very successful singer. How have you stayed so grounded?
Jewel: I think being raised spending so much time outdoors was really important—while you're in it you might not know but now I think of the things I was thankful for.
I had a troubled home life and spent a lot of time on the ranch. The outdoors is so healing you can't help but feel things will be OK—and writing really helped me, too. When I wrote I decided to tell the truth and tried not to lie to make myself feel better—and I learned to accept that I was on my own and not feel a victim. I knew that if my life was going to change it was up to me—and hard work. I liked that.
And I had a desire to learn how to be happy. Just because I wasn't taught that as a child, doesn't mean I can't have it. I saw that other people had to learn it, too. You have to build a place for a happy life to exist. And you have to ask yourself, are you creating chaos or happiness and order, it's something you have to decide to do. Also it was reading a lot for me. I think if you have a desire you have a way to achieve it—I read a lot, and not just self help books, but books that inspired me—you have to surround yourself with people who can inspire you.
My husband has been an amazing example. He had a very happy childhood, and he has taught me a lot in the 12 years we've been together.
FP: Have you always lived a healthy lifestyle and eaten well?
Jewel: I've always been interested in learning about nutrition. Most of us don't know how to eat well, but food can be medicine, it really is miraculous what our body needs to be well, but everyone is different. I'm sensitive and I have kidney problems, from being homeless and not eating well. So I think it's really helped me in the pregnancy to already be eating well.
FP: Have you had any cravings?
Jewel: I tend to eat a lot of protein, good whole grains and lots of veggies. And I have been juicing every day since I got pregnant. If I have a craving, it usually has been for carbs, but my diet was low in minerals, so once I increased my mineral intake, the carb cravings diminished. I was craving dairy, too, so I increased my calcium intake. I believe it really is your body responding to something it needs.
FP: How about exercise?
Jewel: I enjoyed before and kept it up—at first I was doing rigorous cardio, then slowed down to the elliptical and now I'm doing Julie Tupler's program, it's nice to be able to keep up with your abs. I also kept riding up until a couple weeks ago.
FP: Did you gain a lot of pregnancy weight?
Jewel: Well, you're supposed to gain 35 pounds, and now I'm at 32 weeks and I've gained 30 pounds. The first several months, I hardly gained anything, then it happened fast. I don't know how I could control that—I have a healthy diet, I don't eat sugar. I think your body has its own wisdom and as long as you are doing the best you can, you just have to find a balance.
As far as losing the weight, I'm hoping that breastfeeding does the job, but I won't be neurotic about it, about working out right away. I am capable of that but I'm going to cut myself lots of slack.
FP: What is your favorite way to relax?
Jewel: I had this vision that I would take guitar lessons; I would like to get better at it, thinking, "Oh, I have 9 months at home." But as it turns out, I've been busy traveling and working on the record, now getting ready for the show premiering. And also are rebuilding out home, so I'm busier than I thought I would be.
I am moving a lot slower, and I sleep a lot more. I lay around on the couch and read, a lot.
FP: What are you reading?
Jewel: Lots of baby books, they are piled all over my bed. Books about feeding and sleeping, including Jo Tantum's Baby Secrets and Ever Since I Had my Baby, by Roger Goldberg, M.D. It explains your options in childbirth and how to best protect your pelvic floor from damage. It's also helpful information for women who may have already suffered any ill effect "down there" from childbirth. Missy Lavender's website [womenshealthfoundation.org] is also a great resource for women who want to learn about pelvic health. I think this topic is not talked about and it can be so devastating.
FP: What are you looking most forward to about motherhood?
Jewel: The newness of it, it's a completely new chapter in our lives. I've put everything else on hold; and I don't know whether I will want to work afterward or not, and either will be just fine. I just want to give myself time to adjust without the pressure of a tour.
FP: What kind of mom do you think you'll be?
Jewel: You don't really know until you get there, but I think I will be the strict one. You'd think my husband would be strict; he's very manly and tough and all his family is too, but I think he'll be the spoiler, while I keep the big picture in mind and manners, etc. It's such an interesting adventure. It's like art – you have to invent it as you go.
FP: And you say you are planning to breastfeed?
Jewel: We plan on it. I was ranch raised, I personally believe in it because I've seen what it does for animals and I saw what a calf did on the bottle. But I don't have any judgment about it and I don't think it should be contentious—I see great moms both ways. It's amazing how intolerant the discussions on the Internet can be.
FP: What's your best advice for first-time moms?
Jewel: Knowledge really is power. The more you can educate yourself, the better. Your body and your health are your responsibility. I love doctors, but I have to live with the decisions I make. Make sure you get your questions answered, and never feel that you are doubting your doctor by asking a question—a good doctor won't feel that way, either.
And enjoy every minute, it really is fleeting.
Check out our behind-the-scenes video to hear in her own words how she's feeling as she nears the finish line of her pregnancy.
It's a boy! Jewel and her husband Ty Murray welcomed a son, Kase Townes Murray, on Monday, July 11 in Texas. Congratulations!