Jewel is used to performing to big crowds. Her sweet, soulful voice soars across packed concert halls around the world. But these days, the singer-songwriter plays to an audience of one -- son Kase Townes Murray, born in mid-July.
Fortunately, Jewel has plenty of material to sing him to sleep after late-night feedings. Her 2009 album, Lullaby, is filled with enough angels, dreamers, and gentle melodies to soothe even the fussiest baby into slumber.
"I sing a lot of the songs off that album to him," Jewel, 37, says. "Each one really represented something special for me that I wanted my child to know."
Most of the lullabies on the album are originals, penned while she was trying to get pregnant. "I wrote and recorded Lullaby thinking hopefully about a future child," she recalls.
Years before she became a mom, Jewel already had a strong sense of the emotions having a child would stir up. In the song "Sweet Dreams for You," she wrote, "…there once was a day it was gray in a world without you. To this heart, like a doll from above, a miracle of your love found me."
"I tried to say it as clearly as I thought I'd feel and it definitely came true," she says of the lyrics. "It is an amazing love and it really is a gift."
Jewel's Childhood in the Country
Jewel's own gift lies in her storytelling. Maybe it just comes naturally to someone whose personal history reads like a novel -- or a verse lifted straight from a classic folk song. Raised by homesteaders in the Alaska wilderness, Jewel Kilcher spent her early years living in a barn with no heat or indoor plumbing. The musically gifted teen had no money to finance her journey to stardom, so she hopped trains cross-country. Her guitar was her meal ticket. She sang for food and busked for spare change.
Those rough-hewn early years helped Jewel stay levelheaded through her meteoric rise to fame. "I really feel like the chores and the hard work that I was raised with kept me grounded. I think it's why I've never let fame or success go to my head, because I always returned to the land," she says.
She came back to her roots with her husband, professional bull rider Ty Murray, who also knows a thing or two about working the land. He too is ranch-raised -- a fifth-generation cowboy.
They plan to bring Kase up with the same kind of frontier work ethic. When he's old enough, Kase will have to do his share of the chores on their 2,500-acre Texas ranch. "It was important to us to try to provide a lifestyle that helps him learn what work is and what being grounded is," she says.
Jewel's New CD: The Merry Goes 'Round
Although Jewel is taking a break from her own chores on the ranch to care for Kase, she hasn't stopped writing and recording songs. While she was pregnant, she wrote and produced a children's CD, The Merry Goes 'Round.
The album, which Jewel describes as a mix of Dixieland, blues, folk, and grassroots country, are songs Kase can grow up with. "I didn't talk down to children," she says. "I tried to write well-crafted, well-written pop songs…they just happen to be whimsical and funny and entertaining, but not stupid."
Unlike with previous releases, the singer-songwriter won't be promoting her new album on a cross-country tour. Aside from a few scattered concert dates in the fall, she's sticking close to home. For the next few months, her "work" will revolve around changing diapers and feeding her son, she says.
"I look at this as the most important role of my life," she says. "I think Ty and I both waited until the right time in our lives when we could afford to make this our priority. This is what I want to be great at, and this is what I want to put my focus on."
Jewel's Advice for New Moms
The singer-songwriter and first-time mom shares a few tips for other new mothers.
Cut yourself some slack. "I think moms feel a lot of pressure to be perfect, or to lose the baby weight instantly, or to act like they have everything together and put on a brave face. You don't." Give yourself time to recover from your delivery and get to know your baby. "Try to be kind to yourself," she suggests.
Live for today. Focus on the present with your baby -- not the future. "Don't have any expectations of how you think it's supposed to go, so you can take each day as it comes."