Much like the film business, music is dominated by men, according to multi-platinum recording artist Jewel, who says she never took the easy way out to find success.
While many aspiring acts eventually fold to the pressures of trying to gain a solid footing, despite an abundance of talent, Jewel found herself unwilling to compromise her beliefs, although she has been fighting sexual advances since she was a child.
“The music industry is a very male-dominated business,” Jewel tells The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview. “I never slept my way to the top, ever…There was never one time I’ve ever compromised anything. I was always willing to walk away.”
I think that type of spirit that you bring just informs everybody that’s around you. You know, I’ve heard plenty of stories that the opposite happens.
I saw what women would give up for a compliment…I felt men were willing to take advantage if they saw something vulnerable.
I’ve had men hitting on me, sadly, since I was really young. At 8, I had men putting dimes in my hands saying, ‘Call me. It’d be great to f*ck you when you’re older.’ And just horrible stuff.
In retrospect, Jewel believes the harassment she endured as a child prepared her for the harsh realities of industry–she got her big break at 18, when she signed with Atlantic Records.
“In the music business, it ended up serving me very well. I learned to keep my energy to myself, when there’s nothing about me that seemed approachable,” she explained. “And when men did approach me, I got very good at handling men in a way that sort of didn’t anger them…And at the same time using wit and usually humor to defuse the situation and to inform them, ‘P.S. Not available that way.'”
Jewel was living out of her car in San Diego when she signed her first record deal, and claims sexual harassment is what drove her to homelessness.
She recounts her boss at the time fired her after she refused his offer to have sex with him, which left her unable to afford her rent.
Jewel describes that chapter in her life as her most fragile state, telling THR men continued to exploit her vulnerability.
“I’ve never been more propositioned by businessmen in my life. It was almost like they were sharks that could smell blood, like of vulnerability,” she said.
“I’d go back to my car, writing songs, and men would literally come up and proposition me. They would be like, ‘Hey, do you need rent money?’ you know and things like that. It was pretty wild. I never took anybody up on it, but it was interesting to see this side of men that basically would prey on somebody vulnerable.”
Jewel has a new memoir coming out on Sept 15, titled Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story, in which she chronicles her unconventional upbringing and career.