Born in the U.S.A.: Top 50 Stars of the 50 States

Alaska: Jewel was born in Utah, but her family soon moved to Homer (and a home without indoor plumbing). When asked by Larry King in 2010 her opinion of Sarah Palin, Jewel responded, "I can't say we agree on everything (politically). But, Alaska women are can-do women. I love the state I'm from."

Rachel Been

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


A JEWEL IS FOREVER

Hi Gary,

I was ecstatic when I saw that Jewel's latest album, "Sweet and Wild," has debuted on the Billboard 200. It is frustrating that I seldom see her name buzzed about on the Internet much anymore, even though she has continued to release high-quality albums.

Compared to other acts who rose to fame at the same time, such as Alanis Morissette, has Jewel remained relevant and successful since her arrival in 1995?

And, how well has each of Jewel's records sold?

Thanks!

Binh Vuong
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Hi Binh,

Thanks to her segue to country music with the release of "Perfectly Clear" on the Nashville-based Valory label in 2008, Jewel has added a new format's worth of fans since arriving as a folky singer/songwriter in the mid-'90s, some of which were likely already familiar with her music.

"If I had been discovered now, living in my car in San Diego, I think I would have been signed as a country act," Jewel said in 2008. "As a singer/songwriter and as a storyteller, I'm old-fashioned. I like a beginning middle and end to my songs. That's pretty much just country radio now."

Jewel's rather natural evolution to the Nashville community has worked nicely, as "Perfectly Clear" debuted at No. 1 on the Country Albums chart in 2008 and three of her songs have reached the top 40 on Country Songs.

In the mid-'90s, Jewel was one of several rock-based acts that spurred the spinoff of the adult top 40 radio format from mainstream adult contemporary and the subsequent creation of Billboard's Adult Pop Songs airplay chart. Notably, the lead singer of another star act of that era - Hootie & the Blowish's Darius Rucker - has also gone country with great success since 2008.

Michelle Branch, as half of the Wreckers, and Jessica Simpson similarly transitioned in recent years. Such a switch in styles from pop to country isn't a brand new trend; Conway Twitty and Exile are two acts that made such moves decades earlier.

Thus, Jewel has clearly remained a relevant recording artist with a fan base comprising fans of both her more pop-leaning earlier recordings and her newer unquestionably country sound.

Here is a look at the sales of each of Jewel's albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan:

Sales to-date, Title, Year of Release
7,353,000, "Pieces of You," 1995
3,711,000, "Spirit," 1998
1,578,000, "This Way," 2001
1,091,000, "Joy: a Holiday Collection," 1999
771,000, "0304," 2003
377,000, "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland," 2006
240,000, "Perfectly Clear," 2008
37,000, "Lullaby," 2009
32,000, "Sweet and Wild," 2010 (to-date)

Jewel has sold 15.2 million albums in her career, according to SoundScan. Comparing her totals with other female acts that enjoyed breakthroughs during the original Lilith Fair era, her sales sum closely follows those of Morissette (20.5 million units), Sarah McLachlan (18.7 million) and Sheryl Crow (17.3 million).

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