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Chris Botti & Jewel @ Hollywood Bowl Marquee

Hollywood, CA- Grammy nominated singer and songwriter, Jewel, stood on the Hollywood Bowl stage tonight in her sinewy Greek-like dress and sang sweeping ballads with heart, soul and conviction…not too far from being a siren, luring men in from the peninsula, with her sultry beguiling voice. Most people remember Jewel’s pop hits, like “Intuition,” “Foolish Games,” “You Were Meant For Me” and “Who Will Save Your Soul”; quite emblematic music of the 1990’s/early 2000’s. However this evening, her ballads weren’t her traditional pop, folk, country flare that flows through you in an upbeat way. Instead, her rendition of her own songs, were varied and slow, bellowing out of her almost like a gospel singer.

Chris Botti & Jewel @ Hollywood Bowl Marquee. SetlistWatching her, Jewel reminds us she’s simply an Alaskan hillbilly, but I’m not convinced she’s as simple as that. She then told us an amusing story about how she hitchhiked on her own to Mexico, like a true pioneer…or a naïve teen brat. Ah, yes- this is the fierce Jewel that commanded the stage. Tonight, she took on the role of goddess and seductress, singing boldly in front of the grand Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. She would say, otherwise, I am sure— since she has this adorable quality by being brutally honest and even self-deprecating in her stories. As her early disclaimer, she sang the evening with laryngitis and went so far to tell us her use of throat steroids and lozenges, and to forgive her if she couldn’t reach her notes. Like a champion however, she never faltered and her performance was perfection. Her quirky demeanor is endearing because she could be the girl-next-door, strumming away on her guitar and singing sweet and sugary melodies. Yet, that’s not what she does, nor who she is. Jewel has a dominance that you’d never suspect. Her lyrics “these hands are my own,” “just follow your heart, it will lead you in the right direction,” and “who will save your soul” all feed into a very distinct and feminist point of view. While not fully a political message, she did stand her ground reminding fans “happiness does not depend on political leaders, it depends on you.”

Jewel started the evening with her cover of “Over The Rainbow,” which was touching and beautiful. With the magnitude of the symphonic orchestra behind her, it made the beloved hopeful song even more cinematic and powerful. Upon singing “Blue Skies,” Jewel presented a naturally angelic voice that ranges in high alto and suddenly low baritone. For “You Were Meant For Me,” we experienced her acoustic guitar playing and saw her giggle, as if she were still the 16 year old writing that song. Yet during “These Foolish Games,” she chilled the audience with a slow cadence, utilizing her dexterity in minor chords, which left a bold quiet among 16,000 fans.

Despite her suffering throat, she was emboldened and sang a few new songs she never sang before, i.e. “Blue Skies,” “Summertime” and Linda Ronstadt’s “I Get Along Without You,” to which she showed off her bravado. This bravado led to a great variety of vibrato while singing “Intuition,” her hit single in 2003. With the help of pianist, Alan Steinberger, Conductor Thomas Wilkins and the tremendous strength of the orchestra, her rendition of “Intuition” got many fans out of their seats, as she belted out lyrics with attitude, great certainty and maturity.

In spite of her various disclaimers throughout the evening, Jewel channeled the soul of Dionne Warwick, the rhapsodic tones of Joan Osbourne and the sagacity of Joni Mitchell…while keeping her signature tender but expressive Jewel that we have come to love, seek out and remember.

While her latest album, Picking Up The Pieces, was released in 2015. I, for one, can’t wait for her to record a new album…sooner than later.

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