EmaBee Inspiration: Jewel



I remember, sometime in elementary school when we still lived in Baltimore, listening to the song I’m Sensitive with my dad, on Jewel’s very first CD. I thought the lyrics said “if we robbed the senate and took all their food” – it was literally not until I heard her sing it live this past week that I realized she says “if we robbed the cynics and took all their food” – I chuckle to myself in the irony of a child’s mishearing.

When I was in 6th grade, I can clearly remember standing on a stool in the middle of the room I shared with my brother when we were living at the Boatyard, belting out Jewel’s song Little Sister. Headphones on, disc-man in hand, singing along with Jewel at the top of my lungs. I think some part of little me really did understand what she was singing about…

“my little sister is a zombie in a body/ with no soul or role she has learned to play/ in a world today where nothing else matters/ but it matters/ we gotta start feeding our souls…”

I remember finding refuge in her song Hands, listening to it on repeat when I was at youth group at church sitting in the corner by myself, having been excluded from the group.

“I am never broken/In the end only kindness matters”

In high school, I remember making a documentary about the UN Declaration of Human Rights and this song was the sound track.

“On TV, D.C. is selling lies/While on the corner, King’s dream dies”

Next to my senior picture in the high school year book, I quoted this song:

“come on baby let’s just have fun/ let’s breathe stardust into our lungs/ let’s drive too fast, let’s go too far/ when our hearts bleed it let’s us know we/ are alive”

I remember in college having an epiphany realizing that this song isn’t about a lover – it’s about god. (I could write a whole book about this epiphany and the transformation in myself.)

“Inside my skin there is this space/ It twists and turns/ It bleeds and aches/ Inside my heart there’s an empty room/ It’s waiting for lightning/ It’s waiting for you”

Just a month or so ago, I picked up her book of poetry I’ve had sitting on my shelf for years, and was again reminded of her lyrical talent and ability to describe the human condition with such deep resonance.

This past Tuesday, I saw her perform in Washington, DC. It was a revitalizing and fulfilling experience. Talk about EmaBee’s Inspiration!

Get this little tidbit of trivia I learned from her telling stories about songs:  her first single Who Will Save Your Soul was the first song she ever wrote, at the age of 16 when she was hitchhiking across the country and Mexico. When she signed with the record company for this single, she was 18 years old and homeless. At the time, she had recently almost died of kidney failure in the parking lot of a hospital because they wouldn’t see her because she didn’t have health insurance.

I’ve never been good with being able to follow the lyrics of songs. I have to listen really hard and concentrate- but with Jewel, the lyrics have always spoken to me. I have heard other people make similar comments. She is such a humble and talented woman. She has an amazing story. Needless to say, it was extraordinary to see her live this past Tuesday. Her performance and her stories woke up something in me that had been sleeping – reminded me of parts of myself I had almost forgotten.


5 responses to “EmaBee Inspiration: Jewel

  1. I shared this blog posting with my dad, and this was his response:

    ” If you remember, I came home with a bunch of strong women singers at the same time I brought home Jewel. You were clearly in danger of getting ready to go down the boy band road. I went out to the music store and intentionally found women with powerful things to say, so you would have strong independent women to listen to rather than boy bands. Jewel, Cheryl Crow, PJ Harvey, Joan Osborn, Tori Amos, Sinead O’Connor, Beth Orton and the other progressive singers were intentionally made available for you. I hadn’t heard of all these women before I went into the store to find them, but I found them to be great as well. I remember being blown away when I heard Jewel’s line, “…putting up a tower where the homeless had there homes…” spoke to everything I believed in, not to mention “What if God was one of us?” So, this was no accident; it was intentional that you found Jewel and the others.”

    A girl could never hope to be more loved by her father…

  2. Oh gosh, that’s so moving. What a wonderful father you have!

    I’m so glad you got to see this artist live. Last year, I saw Tori Amos perform and it was the fulfillment of a lifelong fantasy. Her music speaks to me in the way you describe above. We all owe so much to the artists who move us, for the meaning the provide for our lives.

    • Thanks! My dad and I had so badly wanted to see Tori Amos last year but couldn’t make the date. I hope she comes around again at some point. Your are right, we do owe so much to the artists that move us. So thankful for them sharing their talent with the world.

  3. Pingback: Harmony with Spirit | EmaBee's Art·

  4. P.S. I recently finished reading her autobiography – “A Night Without Armor” which I highly recommend for anyone interested in Jewel. The following is one of my favorite passages that she had in her book that is an example of her talent to choose words that so simply and eloquently describe our connection as humans and as souls with the universe around us, seen and unseen:

    “Essentially, this is what we are, lives evolving in tandem with the earth, in harmony with the spirit. Old souls that sing their ancient stories and become new with every sunrise. In the coldest darkness. In the repressible Texas dawn. In every leaf and sigh.”

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