Jewel Shares Mental Health Musings, 90s Trends, Ageism and What She Takes on Tour

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Dana Trippe
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Jewel was one of the first powerful lyricists I remember studying the songs of line by line—remember when the lyrics came with the CD? Although she rose to fame in the 90s, she remains a cultural fixture, but only on her own terms. She recently performed with Olivia Rodrigo and will be co-headlining a tour with Melissa Ethridge.

Jewel has always been more than just a singer, and that’s never been more true than right now as she prepares to host and curate an art exhibit at the famed Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas, which will explore the intersection of music, mental health, technology and art. The exhibit will also feature four pieces of her own art—an oil painting, sculpture, hologram video and drone show. We caught up with Jewel about her upcoming art show, ageism in music, mental health and going strawberry blonde.

This art show feels like a culmination of so many of your talents and passions. Tell me how it came together.

“My whole life I’ve been working on three areas. One is music and writing, which everybody knows. Another is visual art, which pretty much nobody knows. The other is behavioral health, which I’ve done a lot of work in. So this is really these three areas of my life coming together in an artistic experience.”

Talk to me a bit about your three spheres theory because I find it fascinating.

“I have found in my own life that I, and all of us, navigate through three realms of reality every day—often without knowing it. And wellness comes as a side effect of when our three realms are in alignment.

The inner realm is our thoughts and our feelings, our heart’s desires, our mind, our psyche. There’s the seen realm, which is everything in the physical world, like our jobs, families, finances, nature and cities. Then the unseen realm is that mysterious realm that humanity has been trying to define since the beginning of man. I define it as anything that gives you a sense of awe and inspiration. For some people, that will mean something very specific religiously, for other people, it’ll just be that they know the hairs on their arm raise when they see a James Hubble Telescope image.

So wellness is a side effect of these being in alignment. When I’m able to articulate something to my partner or the people in my life, and they make changes based on what I’m saying, that makes me feel good. Or if the reason I feel like I was put on the planet is also something I do as my job that makes me feel good. 

Then it’s also true that we have a lot of suffering when our three spheres are in conflict. So if nobody knows the real me or if I have spiritual beliefs that I don’t act on, then I become hypocritical, and that brings suffering. If my job is a job I hate, that brings suffering. The whole art experience is designed to help people get in touch with what they think about their three spheres but in a really fun and light hearted way.”

You’re heading back on tour soon. What are some must-have items you’re bringing?

“I do my own makeup, so lots of colored eye pencils. I like to do very bold eyes when I’m out there, something that’s graphic and kind of reads from far away. Hats are something I always bring because I’m not so good at hair, so I wear hats on tour.

I am very big into sunscreen, so if I’m not on stage wearing makeup, I’ll just wear a tinted sunscreen. I like Revision Skincare Intellishade ($84), it’s a really nice broad-spectrum SPF. I’m really into lanolin as a lip balm and for my skin. I got addicted to it when I was a new mom, and the brand I like is Lanssinoh ($19).

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I can’t believe you do your own makeup. That’s so impressive. Have you always?

“I got into this business quite young, and I was friends with a really famous makeup artist named Kevyn Aucoin, and he taught me how to do makeup so that when he wasn’t around, I could get the look that I was wanting. Since then, I’ve had some of the best makeup artists in the world doing my face pretty much every day, so I’ve learned a lot about it. I really enjoy it. I paint too, so it reminds me of painting, and it’s relaxing too before a show.”

If you could bring back and banish one trend from the ’90s or early 2000s what would they be?

“Banishing the low-rise jeans, the ones that went below your hip bone and barely covered your hiney crack while you were standing so that when you sat there was no hope of both cheeks staying covered. That was a terrible phase. I didn’t like that phase, and it would give you a muffin top even if you were like tiny, tiny, so really not here for that. If everybody is thinking of bringing that back and I have any power, I would like to make sure that I could influence them not to go so low.

If I could bring one thing back from the 90s—I actually think it’s coming back, what do they call it? Grunge sleaze kind of. It’s a cool look. What happened in the 2000s was this hyper-pop, glam look. I was so lucky I came around in the 90s when it was like you didn’t have to brush your hair, you didn’t have to dress cute. It was a really good time for me to go from Alaska to fame.”

I love this hair color on you. Do you feel different with this shade?

“I love it. I love change. I feel like it’s just hair, and it’ll grow back, and we can do other things with it. But I really loved the change to the strawberry blonde red color. Jill Buck does my hair, my cuts and my color. She’s from the Nine Zero One Salon, and she’s so talented and couldn’t be a nicer person. I’ve worked with her for decades. It’s actually hard in the beauty industry because trends happen, and it’s very hard with my job we have to stay current on what new things are happening in art and music, and it’s the same for them with beauty, and she’s just always really stayed incredibly current.”

It’s so important to have someone you want to spend time with doing your makeup.

“Yes, I think that young professionals don’t realize how big that is. It’s the same with musicians you’re hiring for a band and beauty teams that we work with. You have to be a good hang. There are a lot of people out there who are talented, but if you’re not a good hang, why are we going to do that? Life’s too short. We spend too much time with these people.”

It feels like you’re very grounded and in touch with yourself. What do you do for your mental health and well-being?

“Gosh, I have lots of things. Just a really quick tip is just don’t look at your phone first thing when you wake up, keep it off, don’t turn it on, don’t hear the ding, don’t feel the vibrating buzz of the phone. Then do something that puts you in a state of mind that you like, whether it’s meditating or praying or reading a passage from a book or just getting in the shower and listening to music you love.

Having a gratitude practice is really good. It can’t be something that’s like hashtag grateful. It has to be something that profoundly moves you to tears for it to work because the idea is that through biofeedback and neurofeedback, it works because your whole body gets involved. It can’t just be a thought like, ‘I’m grateful for my health.’ It has to be something that moves you, and when it’s like that, it can actually be a really profound practice.

I also developed a virtual mental health platform called Innerworld. It’s designed as a social platform, and there’s a trained guide all the time. It’s safe, and you can learn tools. Let’s say you’re sad one day, or your cat died or you’re just anxious you can go in there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and find support. Then the other half of the platform is skill-based. For example, at one o’clock, there will be a class on anxiety and a skill around it, like a behavioral tool. It’s a clinical research platform, so we’re really tracking outcomes to make sure that we’re getting the results that people want because it can’t be like, ‘I think I feel better.’ This stuff can change your life, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

We actually were just able to publish two white papers showing we’re as effective as traditional therapy. There’s a huge space between where meditation apps end and psychotherapy begins. There are so many clinical results we can get with people with social anxiety, agoraphobia and PTSD. We have tons and tons of classes and scientifically proven behavioral tools around those.”

You’ve been in the industry for a while. How do you think its treatment of women has shifted, and where are there still gaps?

“Gosh, I’ve seen huge shifts around mental health and the arts. I took a two year break after my second album, Hands, because I didn’t like the level of fame I got—it wasn’t good for me psychologically. But there were no words like ‘mental health break,’ so I was ridiculed like, ‘she can’t hack it’ and ‘she’s a has-been,’ you know, all that stuff. I love seeing now that musicians are able to take breaks.

I think for women, the Me Too movement was very needed. It’s a pretty scummy business. The toxicity in it is very, very high. I think younger women are in a better and safer place in general. Obviously, there’s still a long way to go.

The thing that I think is a gap still is ageism. Just now, Joni Mitchell is getting some of the recognition she deserves that was handed to Bob Dylan and Neil Young much easier, and she’s no less of a talent. Carole King and so many amazing women don’t have the ticket sales or even the prestige—it just isn’t given to them in the same way, and so I think that’s still a real issue around credibility and how the press treats women and female writers in general.”

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