Singer-songwriter Jewel is saving energy — and money — by making her Texas ranch home green inside and out. “We insulated our windows really well with foam spray insulation and it’s cut down on our energy bills dramatically. We’re finding that it’s paying for itself. We have water heaters that heat up instantly so you use less water by not keeping it running,” she says. “We didn’t do solar panels. But we compost and we have a little garden. It suffered this year because we had a really bad drought.” She also decorated with a lot of reclaimed wood. “I love using reclaimed things, one because it lends a great element to the house and secondly, no trees have to be chopped down for it.”
Jewel lives at the rustic ranch with her husband Ty Murray and six-month-old son Kase, and by choice hasn’t worked much outside of it during her pregnancy and since his birth. Camera crews came to her home to shoot her part as host of the Veria Living series “The Incurables,” which tells the stories of real-life patients coping with dire diagnoses. Having dealt with personal medical issues including kidney and thyroid problems, she found the subject both fascinating and close to home.
“I started having kidney problems when I was 16 and doctors weren’t able to give me an answer why I was having these problems or why the infections kept coming back,” and it taught her that “we have to research and be our own health advocates and always know what’s out there as far as options go. I think the show is great for that,” she says of the series, which premieres Jan. 19.
Jewel also signed on to mentor the contestants on Christina Aguilera’s team on the second season of “The Voice,” which premieres Feb. 5 on NBC. A fan of the show, “I enjoy that they give contestants an opportunity to grow and not just be critiqued,” she says, grateful for the advice she got from her own mentors, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Merle Haggard. She’d enjoyed working with songwriters on Bravo’s “Platinum Hit” last year and was eager to help budding talent again, especially since she was able to tape all her segments in a single day. “I got to do something I love, without being away from the baby,” she says. “The best of both worlds!”
Her second children’s album, “Merry Goes ‘Round,” came about as a desire to write music that her son and nieces and nephews could enjoy but not have adults cringing or covering their ears. She listened to the Beatles “Rocky Raccoon” for inspiration and watched multi-generationally appealing movies like “Shrek.” She plans to follow it with a children’s book called “That’s What I Do” that incorporates some lyrics from the record and will be out later this year. “This is the most I’ve been home in years,” says the woman who has sent most of her life touring, “but I haven’t minded. Every day just flies by taking care of the baby,” she says.
Jewel practices her aforementioned water conservation on a global scale as the founder of Project Clean Water, which builds wells in needy villages all over the world. “I was homeless for about a year when I was 18 and going through a really bad bout with my kidneys, and I almost died from blood poisoning because doctors turned me away. Part of keeping my kidneys working was one or two gallons of clean filtered water every day and being homeless I didn’t have much access to that much clean water. I thought that if I ever get into a position to help I’d look into this, and my life turned around in a matter of a year and a half and I was able to found Project Clean Water,” she explains. “We’ve dug around 35 wells in different countries from Tibet to Africa to Honduras.”