Elizabeth Street Meets Jewel

In her wistful children’s book, the lauded songstress sets her lyrics to the page

With four Grammy nominations and over 25 million album sales under her (most likely country western–inspired) belt, new mother Jewel is taking a well-deserved break in the Colorado mountains. “I just want to focus on being a mom right now,” she said via phone, her sentences punctuated by son Kase’s cooing in the background.

But for Jewel, focusing on motherhood equates to writing a book about it, too. Enter the lilting, song-inspired story, That’s What I’d Do, which comes packaged with an audio CD—think “Who Will Save Your Soul” meets softer lullaby—and whimsical illustrations by Amy June Bates. The book won’t be hitting the shelves until September 18, but for those of us in desperate need of a new bedtime soother, you can pre-order an autographed copy here. —Lucie Alig 

I read that the one of your aims with the book is to teach kids about rhyme. Why are phonetics so important for young children?
Language inspired me from a very young age—much younger than people give children credit for. As kids get a little older, they start to really grasp rhyming and metaphor, so I really wanted to do a poetic book that’s very metaphorical and helps paint pictures with words.

How else do you teach your son about music?
We always have the guitar out here. I’ll count 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 and make up little songs for him. He takes vitamins every morning, so I made up a song to go with the ritual of taking them. “The Treat Man / is calling!” I sing, and he knows to take the “treats” (my name for pills!) when he hears it.

How did you get the idea to write That’s What I’d Do?
I had wanted to write a children’s book for a long time. When I got pregnant, I couldn’t travel as much so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to do it. It was such a sweet gift to make this book, knowing that my child will grow up with it. As Kase gets older, different songs will mean different things to him. It’s a poetic love poem to my baby.

How did you decide what to write about?
I had certain things I wanted to say to my child. He wasn’t born yet, but I was thinking up all these little lessons I wanted to share, like not being afraid of the dark, not letting your imagination get too carried away, and how you can count on other people. For instance, a bird and a tree are sort of like partners; they count on each other for shade and company. Little ideas like that.

In what other ways has motherhood influenced your career? Your day-to-day?
It’s changed my life a lot—I’ve chosen to let it. I haven’t set up any tours since my son was born, and I don’t really have any plans to. We’ve been in Telluride for three months now. I’ve put work on the back burner and am simply enjoying the mountains.