Since rocketing to stardom with her 1993 debut "Pieces of You," Jewel has proved herself a gifted and sensitive singer-songwriter, poet, and actress. Chasing Down the Dawn, Jewel's follow-up to her bestselling book of poetry A Night Without Armor, details the childhood of a girl from Alaska who would become a pop superstar and reveals through stories, journal entries, poems, and sketches the endless creativity of an artistic mind.
As multifaceted as its author is multitalented, Chasing Down the Dawn covers a lot of ground. It is organized loosely into chapters, some passages covering Jewel's early life. Jewel vividly describes growing up in the outdoors: riding horses and enjoying what nature had to offer in the breathtaking Alaskan landscape. A natural performer, Jewel also recounts her earliest gigs, traveling to remote villages in Alaska's northern interior to perform with her parents. Over the course of the narrative it becomes clear Jewel's parents were a constant source of support and encouragement for her creative aspirations.
Interspersed between sections that deal with Jewel's upbringing, family, and friends are passages that touch on her current fame and status as a pop superstar. In journal entries, Jewel offers a glimpse into life on the road: waking up unsure of what city she is in, signing autographs, performing onstage, worrying about and treating voice problems, and soaking up every minute of downtime. In poems, Jewel examines the life she has chosen and reflects on her own identity, which seems a dual identity at times. Drawings that smack of curiosity and self-awareness touch upon themes both serious and lighthearted.
Chasing Down the Dawn will strike a chord with younger fans anxious to hear more of this gifted artist's life story and her journey to fame. But it will also resonate with more mature readers as a chronicle of an artist's development and her pursuit of self-discovery. And Jewel's anecdotes about other celebrities she has met or performed with are sure to please everyone.
Read an Excerpt
The matter has nothing to do
with position or place. There are
a million ways to lack courage,
whether you are rich or poor, and
just as many ways to be heroic. I
know that now.
On a Private Plane Headed to Minneapolis
It is nearly winter. Summer has passed so quickly. Summer is the best time to be in Alaska. I remember those lovely summer months and lazy days when the endless daylight beckoned us deep into the woods to lie on our backs and stare at the sky. Now it is cold and the hills will be covered in ice.
Winter could be challenging. The long, dark months confining us to our cabin. Our nerves growing raw from living elbow to elbow. Overnight, the coal stove would burn out, leaving the house to absorb the rock-hard cold of the frozen yard. I'd open my eyes to discover that the picture window that overlooked the meadows was covered in paisley patterns of frost. On particularly cold mornings I would wake to find my brothers sleeping soundly, a faint trace of white frost icing their eyelashes where the white puffs of their breath had condensed and settled.
There were fun times amid the chores and difficulties. A couple times a year we hitched our roan horse, Nikka, to the sleigh and tied jingle bells to the sideboards and my dad would drive us two miles through the snowy meadows to the road where we'd wait for the bus that would take us to school and town. We were the only kids, except for the Rainwaters maybe, who got driven to school in a jingle sleigh. The music of the bells filled my ears and all the empty valleys. On the way home my dad wouldpick us up on the sleigh with toboggans in tow, and he and the boys would make a mile-long toboggan run through meadow after meadow, ducking under the barbed-wire fences that separated pastures. I'd get to drive the horse and sleigh the whole way home in the dwindling daylight, while the others enjoyed sledding. Or if my dad drove, I would straddle the leather harnesses and ride Nikka bareback, nothing between me and the frosty tundra. The mountains white, with their glaciers spreading like frozen wings. The tall spruce trees covered in sugar, the meadows and mute fields, crosshatched with neat trails that the cows and horses followed religiously to water holes.
The bay was beautiful but eerie in the winter. So gray and smooth it looked like glass that would cut you just for looking at it. Sometimes it looked still and treacherous, yet at others windblown and whitecapped. Gazing at it chilled me to the bone. But here I am daydreaming.
There is a storm outside. I can see it through the airplane windows.
I am on a very nice private jet that Target sent to take me to do a show for them in Minneapolis. We are traveling at Mach .9, which is the closest to breaking the sound barrier a private aircraft can go, or some such thing. It's all very surreal. No one back home would believe it.
From the cockpit, the captain just informed me that we are eight miles above Colorado. Eight miles! There are flashes of lightning below. He has dimmed the cabin lights so I can better see the explosion of lights burst upward through the dense layers of black clouds, lighting up the night sky and all the stars.
From the ground the storm must be fierce and hard, but from up here it is a silent light show that erupts and dances as if it were performing for me alone.
Vaporous fingers of color begin to fan out on the horizon. Northern Lights! Way up here! I had no idea they had Northern Lights anywhere but in Alaska. For a minute it feels like I'm home, except I'm not staring out the window of a log cabin. I'm in a private plane traveling nearly the speed of sound somewhere high above the Rockies, on my way to sing one song before being whisked off again to the premiere of my first movie, Ride with the Devil, at the Toronto Film Festival.
This is different than I expected. It's not like savoring the simple pleasure of guiding a horse silently through the snow-padded fields back home. But I know now that the same awesome force that makes it possible for me to sail the night sky and witness such splendors as tonight ensures that I can return to the splendor of simplicity. And home.
It's all here. Always. Everywhere.
Country Hotel Outside of Liverpool
A bowl of bright fruit sits upon what I assume to be an antique table. Not that I'd know a true antique from a reproduction. Where I'm from it's hard to find anything more than, say, fifty years old. Unless you count the only true antiquities...the glaciers, mountains, and rugged valleys.
Europe has been mind-boggling. This continent has been inhabited by a modem civilization for centuries. One hundred years ago Alaska was home only to different tribes: Athabascan, Aleut, Tlinket; and perhaps the occasional pillaging explorer.
When I was young, like many in Alaska, I erroneously believed that all of Alaska's natives are Eskimo. But that's like saying all American Indians are Cherokee. There are many proud and distinct tribes all over Alaska.
When I was seven, I went on tour with my parents to several villages in the Northern interior. I remember flying in bumpy, single-engine planes low over frozen tundra, landing near a cluster of small buildings. I vividly recall being taken by dogsled to the cabin of the family that would be our host for that evening in that village. The dogs-blue-eyed huskies were excited and yipping, their pink tongues steaming in the cold. They would drown you in licks if you let them...