Jewel Kilcher pronounces herself a feminist, infuses her estimable talent into the mix, then produces a message of wondrous hope and praise for the human condition.
Jewel from her "Picking Up the Pieces" CD
Poetic to the point of pretentious reflection projected upon a crowd of total strangers ... or were we? Some possibly, most were longtime accomplices to Jewel's soulful renderings, her willing auditory muse, but, by the end of the evening, her receptive audience within this charming acoustically perfect theater were irrevocably mesmerized. Jewel, as a musical artist is mesmerizing; and, remarkably, her self-proclaimed "feminist" message, or, rather, her incomparable spirit "is never broken" - not this night.
And, that is her willful purpose: to project the incredible, the fantastic portable pieces of her life. Pieces segregated, well embellished, and then remixed into a poetic soup to be strewn publicly and exposed, vicariously understood, which is the art of it. Jewel, one of the most remarkable pure vocalists of a generation, is, moreover, a poignant communicator through verse, and now prose, which laid bare the hard-scrabbled beginnings of her extraordinary life as a successful artist - singer, songwriter, poet and author.
Jewel, at her spiritual core, is an artist. As an artist, she, foremost, endeavors to communicate by: verse, melody, her original voice, and her sheer force of will. Now, with her autobiography,"Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half The Story", complete in all its revealing glory, Jewel communicates by her recorded spoken word, which illuminates the onset of her set of songs for the evening. This is played over the audio system, and is laced throughout her older and newest melodies, and within the composition of her extra-personal monologue.
Here in the full shadow of Jewel's melodic expression of her abject vulnerable past, I almost feel as if I know the history of her sweet life as I do my own, and maybe more than those of my 3 lovely daughters. They don't tell me everything; I feel that Jewel possibly did.
Not only in her many spoken words, but in her poetic renderings of the life she well knows to express, Jewel laid bare her spirit as well as her past: An impoverished childhood in Homer, Alaska as the daughter of Lenedra Jewel and "Atz" Kilcher; her mother abandoned the family when Jewel was 8; sang in local bars with her father, Atz, until she left Alaska for Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan, on a scholarship; when 18, with her high school diploma from Interlochen, Jewel lived in San Diego, sought menial work, and lost her job due to refusing the sexual advances of her unscrupulous boss, eventually, making her homeless. While homeless in San Diego, and living out of her Van, Jewel almost dies of infected kidneys when she is turned away from the treatment, and all this adversity while at the delicate age of 18 years.
From the resistance of adversity, rarely, but, on occasion, comes the proverbial living pearl of perfect beauty. Jewel Kilcher wrote her first song, "Who Will Save Your Soul", in 1990, and still one of her most popular songs, when she was sixteen. At the tender age of 18 years, while most teenagers are jousting opponents for the better prom dates, Jewel lies gravely ill in the the backseat of her car in a San Diego hospital parking lot. If not for the Good Samaritan kindness of a hospital doctor, who came to the sick teenager's aid, prescribing and providing the budding poet with curing antibiotics, Jewel may have died unnoticed in abject anonymity. From her experience with this warranted act of kindness, from her ascribed "angel", she wrote her unforgettable anthem "Hands", remarkably, at 18 years old, in 1992.
I mention all of this Jewel Kilcher history for two reasons: 1) This spoken knowledge, via intermittent monologue, was a major component of Jewel's show at the Carolina Theater; 2) It would be false to assume that Jewel's unique life experiences were not the prime influence in her every creative musical endeavor.
On this cold, rainy March night in this Bull Durham town, the totality of Jewel's creative musical endeavor could best be represented by her evening's playlist here below:
Durham Theater Playlist - March 19, 2016
- greetings and chat
Without You By My Side
My Father's Daughter
Angel Standing By
Leave Yourself At The Door (poetry reading)
Here When Gone
You Were Meant For Me
Goodbye Alice in Wonderland
Listen (poetry reading)
Who Will Save Your Soul
encore: Chime Bells
And what an evening of musical masterpieces, interlaced within Jewel's aforementioned theme of keeping it real and true, with words which honestly describe the paradigm that is the totality of Jewel Kilcher. In this and many other essential pieces of this night's performance, it was an extra-one-woman-show.
It was a one-woman musical presentation where Jewel walks in from the stage shadows to the soft light of center stage to sing, a capella, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which is the beginning of every Jewel show, and for some time now. My guess is: This is Jewel's process of flexing her voice to sing the remaining 18 songs of her set, in perfect tone, in perfect pitch.
After that auspicious introduction to the probable evening that lain ahead, with Jewel's melodic company, the crowd settled in for more. That is where jewel's monologue began, and Jewel is pre-conditioned to talk. In fact, if Jewel elected to leave her perfect vocation, she would make an outstanding politician; she is an incredibly gifted, and naturally relaxed speaker. Her spoken words is where I derived 90% of this data in this report, the rest I researched just to fill in the gaps. Still, most in the crowd came for the playlist, and, intuitively sensing this, Jewel remarked while recounting her varied, and unusual life events: 'I promise; I will soon be singing.'
After the Jewel poem, "Without You by My Side", she well explained her next song "Plain Jane", from "Picking Up the Pieces, which contrasted herself as someone who arrived unremarkably dressed to the Upper East Side party (and was told so), with, moreover, the New York Fashion elites in the bargain, and the contrasts were a wide chasm in originality, or, the lack thereof. Jewel duly noted their institutional hypocrisy: "You make side comments in private ... But in public, you're fashionably green." And then to remind these superficial, pretentious people: "Beneath painted layers you're afraid they'll see what's really in your heart."
Publisher's note: To all of Wyatt's many fans, and he has a great many, Wyatt has finally and unconditionally retired. My history with my good friend, Wyatt Sanderman Day, is long, and if Wyatt is no longer with us, he will always have a rich history with me and BCN, for which I will always be eternally thankful.
As a certifiable homage to Wyatt, and to attempt to carry his lamp of wisdom in the understanding of true art, which will be his legacy, I will now wear his immense cloak as I attempt to take his estimable place in that discussion.
Maybe the upside for me is that I will concentrate less on Liberals vs Patriots, and more on all things art, and its communication value forthwith, which I do have a robust history of. Does that mean that Stan will become insufferably 'artsy /fartsy', saying nonsensical statements like: "Art for arts sake", "I live for my art", and "I live for art"?
What do you think?
Publisher's note: One more note here - The reason I took no pictures is that I was not on the media list, because, I was there to see the show with my wife, since my daughter and her husband paid the 80.00 price per ticket as birthday gifts for both my wife and I. Once inside, I thought: I could shoot this show (at least a few shots) with my telephoto lense raw, at 800 ISO; 100 to 125th/second speed; a short focal point, and they would be marvelous (great lighting for the subject - Jewel).
From here on out, I will not take the time to do one of these, unless, I can take my Canon into the hall, which I will seek permission to do so. I talked to a couple of media guys inside the theater, and the cool part of this is: If you get the media pass, you also get a free ticket. I would still have to pay for my wife; we travel as a team, especially to concerts.