Jewel doesn't seem the type to come from a Utah Mormon family, but in fact, she was born in Payson to Mormon homesteaders.

"I left around the age of 2, though," she said. "I spent most of my younger years growing up in Homer, Alaska, on a family ranch that my father built from the ground up. We didn't have electricity, and had outhouses. It was a very real way of living."

It was in Alaska that Jewel got her start singing.

As young as 6, she would travel on a dog sled with her parents to native villages and sing for Eskimos and Aleuts in remote places. Later, at 8, she and her father began touring as a duet act. They sang in biker bars and lumberjack joints — and if the police were ever called, she would hide in the bathroom until they were gone.

"As most people know, at the age of 18 I was homeless and living out of my car for about a year," Jewel said. "I did the best I could with the situation I was in, trying to make money by singing in coffee shops night after night.

"I think a majority of people think that homeless teenagers choose to live on the streets and that they are delinquents. I became homeless because I refused to have sex with my boss, who then decided to not pay me. I couldn't make rent, so I was thrown out."

Jewel's early experiences not only shaped her as an artist but also as an activist. She recently returned from Washington, D.C., where she testified before a U.S. congressional hearing on youth homelessness. "I also was able to go to the Arctic with Richard Branson to do a documentary on global warming and how it is affecting the Inuits and their way of life. So I haven't really had much time off."

She also has a charity, Project Clean Water. "I started it in 1997 after being homeless, living out of my car with sick kidneys and realizing how hard it was for me to have clean, purified water, which I needed to stay healthy. I thought that if it was that hard for me, imagine how hard it would be for a community that has no clean water available at all. I would love to raise awareness about the global prob-

lem and how easy and cost-effective it is to go into a community like that and actually build a purifying system."

Her experiences have also worked their way into the studio. In fact, Jewel took time out from recording her new album in Nashville to be interviewed by the Deseret Morning News. "I've got a great selection of country songs that I have been writing since I was 16 that I think my fans will really like.

"All my songs seem to have an autobiographical aspect to them. They reflect the people in my life, events I have experienced or things someone close to me has gone through. I think it would be hard for me to write a song without a personal undertone to it."

Between the charity work and the new album, Jewel hasn't had much time for touring. Performing with the Utah Symphony at Deer Valley on Saturday is the only concert listed on her Web site — although she thinks there are some more dates coming up this fall.

This show will also be unusual in that it will be with an orchestra — which Jewel hasn't done very often. "As a songwriter it's always great to hear your songs arranged differently. To have strings and other musical instruments incorporated always adds a great musical vibe to what I originally wrote and recorded.

"Basically it will be my songs arranged a little differently with an orchestra. I will have my drummer and my guitarist from my band.

"It's really a unique experience for the people who are there. It's a show that only Deer Valley will get to experience. People can expect some obscure songs as well as the hits. There definitely will be a few surprises."

And as far as a homecoming goes, Jewel said that she still has distant relatives and family friends in Utah. "Actually, some of them will be coming on Saturday, so it should be a great show for me."

If you go ...

What: Jewel, Utah Symphony

Where: Deer Valley Amphitheater

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $80, reserved; $40, general admission; $12, youths (ages 4-17)

Phone: 355-2787 or 888-451-2787

Web:www.deervalleymusicfestival.org


E-mail: rcline@desnews.com