You know, Sia has life figured out,” Jewel jokes, speaking to Yahoo Entertainment/SiriusXM Volume the day after winning The Masked Singer disguised as the Queen of Hearts. “Being able to put on a wig and not deal with hair and makeup is a pretty great thing. So, I loved that aspect of [the show], actually, of just being able to put my hair in a ponytail and do my job.”

Jewel became the sixth Masked Singer champion after a stunning run of performances — including the above-mentioned Sia’s “Bird Set Free” — that the judges heralded as some of the best in the series’ history. Studio recordings of those songs are now available on Jewel’s new Queen of Hearts EP, and Jewel is proud that the show put the spotlight on “something I’ve never focused on in my entire career, which is just my technical ability as a singer. … It was actually a goal of mine with the show. I’ve never written for my voice, which is weird. I write my own songs; you think I would write a song that showed off my singing! But I only cared about the story. So, if you think of ‘You Were Meant for Me,’ it was a massive hit, but it was not a difficult song to sing. Same with ‘Who Will Save Your Soul.’ They were more idiosyncratic vocally, but not demanding vocally. And so for this show, actually something I wanted to really focus on was to show

 

ewel recalls the overwhelming attention she received for her looks, not her vocals or songcraft, when her debut album Pieces of You came out more than 25 years ago. “I was made fun of in the press — and you know, shock jocks were everywhere because of [the popularity of] Howard Stern. So, I’d go live on the radio and they’d go, ‘You may have heard me describe my next guest as a large-breasted woman from Alaska. Jewel, how are you?’” she says. “But I was raised in Alaska in bars, so I’d learned to stick up for myself. So, when the guy said that on radio, I went, ‘Oh, you must be that small-penis man I’ve heard so much about from South Carolina!’ And I got kicked off the radio, out of the station. You know, people would on radio would be like, ‘How do you give a BJ with those teeth?’ It was nasty, what was happening to girls in the ‘90s. Oh my God, it was rough.”

Jewel was “getting beat down” in the press all the time in those early days, but then touring with an iconic singer-songwriter helped her out of that dark place. “On a personal level, what gave me the courage to keep going was Bob Dylan,” she says. “I don’t think it made a big difference in the public or on radio, but he liked me. He mentored me. He listened to my shows. He brought me down to his dressing room after every show. And he’d go over my lyrics with me. And that blew my mind. I was tired, I was exhausted, and the record was going nowhere, but Dylan really believed in me. He was like, ‘Keep going. It doesn’t matter if you’re successful on radio. Keep going.

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