Singer Jewel doesn't only conserve water at home in Texas. She's helping to bring this precious resource to places in the world that don't have it via Project Clean Water, which she founded with her brother in 1997. "We've put about 35 wells in 15 countries — Africa, Asia, and one in the States, too, on an Indian reservation," she says.
Now expecting her first child, a boy, in July, Jewel is the host of Bravo's new songwriting competition "Platinum Hit," which premieres May 30. "I found out that I was pregnant at the beginning of shooting this show. So that was a little hard. I was tired, but other than that it was good," she says of the series, which features Kara DioGuardi as head judge and a guest judge roster including Natasha Bedingfield, Jermaine Dupri and Ryan Tedder, all tasked with putting the songsmiths through timed collaboration challenges.
"We ran them through the paces. They had to be able to write rap, R&B, country, pop. They get in groups of two to four people and co-write. It's a really revealing, dramatic process," says Jewel, who says she "would have killed for this opportunity when I was coming up. You get to write in every style and really stretch your wings and get to be mentored by people in the business who can really help you." Jewel's own path was quite different: "I was homeless and wasn't trying to get discovered. I was just trying to get by and I started singing locally. The crowds just really pulled for me, fed me, were like a family to me."
She relishes the opportunity to mentor young talent, as she did previously on "Nashville Star." "I don't pull punches. I'm a very straight shooter, but I'm really pulling for them," she says, noting that unlike on other shows, singing ability isn't a factor. "We're not looking for people to be great singers, with their own record deals. We're looking for someone that can write a hit for Carrie Underwood or Britney Spears.
"They do perform their own songs, but we don't judge them on their singing," Jewel differentiates. "We also asked them to tell us who they'd be pitching the song to, so that while they're singing it, we're imagining Beyoncé or whoever they wrote the song for."
As for her own songwriting, the mom-to-be is working on a children's album, based on the story in the Beatles song "Rocky Raccoon."