Singer/songwriter Jewel has a new label and a new genre to boot. The artist has signed a multi-album deal with newly launched Nashville-based independent Valory Music Company and will pursue success o

Singer/songwriter Jewel has a new label and a new genre to boot. The artist has signed a multi-album deal with newly launched Nashville-based independent Valory Music Company and will pursue success on the country charts.

Jewel, who has cut five of her six albums in Nashville, says country has always been in her plans. "I've been wanting to do this record my whole career," she tells Billboard.com, "but my label was always scared of country music. I've always had country songs on my records."

Jewel, who previously recorded for Atlantic Records, has sold 14.8 million albums in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. She has scored seven top 10s on Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart, including two No. 1s, "Foolish Games" and "You Were Meant for Me."

"If I had been discovered now, living in my car in San Diego, I think I would have been signed as a country act," she maintains. "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."

Scott Borchetta, the president and CEO for Nashville-based independent Big Machine Records, is launching Valory. The label's name is a variation on country icon June Carter Cash's birth name, Valerie June Carter.

Along with Jewel, whose album was produced by Big & Rich's John Rich and is expected in the spring, Valory is also home to new artists Justin Moore and Jimmy Wayne.

Borchetta launched Big Machine in 2005. The label is home to rising star Taylor Swift, Trisha Yearwood and Jack Ingram, among others. It also handles promotion for Garth Brooks, whose current single "More Than A Memory" is one of four new tracks on his forthcoming "The Ultimate Hits" (Pearl).

Though she lives in Texas with bull-riding star boyfriend Ty Murray, Jewel has spent a good bit of time in Nashville over the last few years. Earlier this year she hosted the country reality show "Nashville Star" and she has made a number of appearances at Muzik Mafia events. She co-wrote and dueted with new artist Jason Michael Carroll on "No Good In Goodbye," which appears on his debut album, "Waitin' in the Country" (Arista Nashville). And she will be a presenter on the Country Music Association Awards show with Murray on Nov. 7.

"She's just one of the best singer/songwriters in any genre," Borchetta says, adding that a move to country is "a natural progression for her."

Overall, Jewel says fans won't hear a big difference in the new album. "It won't sound like a huge, crazy departure," she says. Among the songs due to make th cut is "Perfectly Clear," a longtime concert staple and fan favorite that she has never recorded. "It's sure enough a country song," she says.


Additional reporting by Keith Caufield in Los Angeles.