April 30th, 2012
11:57 AM ET

Singer Jewel opens up on past hunger, homelessness

Before rising to international fame, singer/songwriter Jewel faced some tough times.

The 37-year-old mom says she experienced both homelessness and hunger, and is grateful to those who saw something in her when she couldn't see it for herself.

"It was really hard for me to ever think that I was special when I was homeless," she told CNN in a recent interview. "I was writing things, I was writing songs, but I didn't think that they were that good. The fact that someone believed in me or thought that my life was special meant a lot to me, because I didn't know how to value it.”

As a result, Jewel gives back through her involvement with the “Child Hunger Ends Here” campaign, knowing firsthand the impact that kind of outreach can have.

“People helped me," the singer said. "They didn't know me. They didn't owe me anything. They would just give me food.They'd give me $5 for food. That not only helped feed me but it gave me hope."

Jewel was eventually discovered performing in a coffeehouse, and she tells up-and-coming talent not to discredit the importance of singing live when just starting out.

“To me, the most important thing if you want to get discovered isn't rubbing elbows with celebrities," Jewel said. "It's being great. So you need to cut your teeth, and you need to sing live and you need to be great. And if you're great, people will start to listen."

Thanks to Jewel and all of our iReporters for submitting questions!

Coming soon will be our interview with "Jersey Shore’s" Vinny Guadagnino. Head to our iReport interview page if you want to ask him a question and see what celebrities we’re talking to next!

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Filed under: Awards Season

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Jokerw Mitchm

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    July 11, 2012 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Becky

    As someone who lives in Alaska, it's hard to go hungry. There is an endless natural food supply in every direction. Fish, berries, game, clams, etc. Go and get it.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hot Carl

    Easy to be "poor" when mommy n daddy got your back. Shut up, Fewel.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sokman

    She flashed her b00bs on TRL in a photo booth on MTV. She has big nlpples.

    May 1, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. Spare us

    we've heard this rags to riches story about 156,000 times, she's so rich she's swimming in it now.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Observer

    she must be ready for a new album...she's told this story 100 times and its been over for years and she's rich and who's seen her in years. please.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. Louie

    I didn't know this about her and it makes me like her more. She had a couple of cute songs, but it looks like meeting her husband was the best thing in her world. They have a cute son and she lives on an incredible ranch. She is a good artist as well.

    April 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rodney in Dallas

    I think it's awesome that she is married to Tye Murray. He is a rodeo cowboy and you'd just never picture the two of them together but they have been together for quite some time.

    April 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Skeptic

    singing live without studio tricks or auto-tune is the best way to prove you got skills. live music is always better than over-produced robot voices.

    April 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Vexi

    I did not know that about her. Rags to riches is right. Good for her with her involvement with Child hunger ends here campaign. I wish her much success.

    April 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. .•|•.

    It's nice to hear a "rags to riches" story, it gives people some hope. I'm happy for her.

    April 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |

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