Even if you weren’t familiar with Jewel’s music back when her debut album Pieces of You hit store shelves on this day in 1995 (and you probably weren’t, considering her big single “Who Will Save Your Soul” didn’t break until later in the year), you almost certainly knew her narrative.
Jewel Kilcher grew up in Alaska with her dad in a house that didn’t have indoor plumbing (she used an outhouse) and often sang songs with her father in bars for extra money (it was there she learned to yodel). She made her way to Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan, where she focused on her guitar skills and began writing songs. She made her way out west and occasionally ended up living in a van while she played her songs in coffee houses and clubs. She eventually caught the attention of people from Atlantic Records, who signed her to a deal and paired her with producer Ben Keith (who is best known as the producer of many of Neil Young’s solo albums; Young’s band the Stray Gators, which featured Keith on steel guitar, backed Jewel on her debut album).
Pieces of You didn’t make an immediate impact, but her story began to circulate and “Who Will Save Your Soul” picked up spins on radio toward the end of 1995. By early 1996, “Who Will Save Your Soul” had grabbed a ton of MTV airplay, and Jewel morphed into a superstar (even landing on the cover of Time magazine). Her debut album also spawned two more big singles in “You Were Meant For Me” and “Foolish Games,” but “Who Will Save Your Soul” has the sort of rugged beauty that got her discovered in the first place.