An elegant performer and exceptional vocalist, Cheryl Jewell is a rare gem in the Pacific Northwest scene. Described as an “extraordinarily versatile singer”, Jewell moves with seamless grace from swinging jazz standards and big band tunes to soulful ballads. Her style reflects the passion of Dinah Washington, the finesse of Nancy Wilson and the blue-eyed soul of Eva Cassidy, as she captivates audiences with her pure, rich tone and stirring interpretations.
For as long as she can remember, Jewell has had an intense love for her craft. As a child, she spent hours listening to big band recordings and solo artists such as Nancy Wilson, Barbara Streisand and countless others. Studying and emulating the nuances and intonation of each, she built the foundation to her own dynamic style. “Singing has always been my first love, from the time I was 3 or 4 years old,” recounts Jewell. “In fact, my mother tells the story of how I would literally spend hours in the bathtub, singing along to my favorite records.” This early dedication paid off, and at 13 she landed her first solo show at the Officers’ Wives’ Club (Whidbey Naval Air Station), moving on to musicals and jazz choirs throughout her high school years.
At the age of 19, and after a year in the Music Department at Western Washington University, Jewell chose music as her profession. From that moment on she became an unstoppable force as a singer, touring nationally with her own bands. During those early years, she spent time in the Detroit and Chicago areas, studying the blues under the guidance of some of the best musicians on the local scenes. “The audiences there were different than what I was used to,” recounts Jewell. “They were very vocal when they liked what you did … it was exhilarating!” Blessed with a powerful vocal range, Jewell quickly won a reputation and landed a number of gigs, including pre-fight entertainer at the Hilton Hotel boxing matches sponsored by Muhammad Ali. She would go on to perform on the national stage with an array of well-known musicians, including Tim Bogert, John Entwistle, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Newman, Roger McGuinn and the Motown songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland.
As a member of the alt-neo country-rock band Tin Star from 1987-1988, Jewell was featured on their film-version recording of “Brighter than the Moon” (included in the 1987 movie No Man’s Land, starring Charlie Sheen). She sang lead vocals for the 1986 NAMM Show All-Star Band in Los Angeles (featuring Eddie Van Halen), and provided backing vocals for the Nelson hit “After the Rain” (Geffen Records, 1990). From 1989 to 1994 Jewell was lead singer for the Dove Award nominated group Rachel Rachel, an all-female Christian rock band that she co-founded with bass player Jennifer York. They entered the Billboard Charts at #25 (Top Contemporary Christian) with their first album Way to My Heart, and would go on to have several top 10 hits, including two #1’s. In 1993 she was also a featured artist along with Al Green on the Famine Relief record Operation Angel Wings (released by Word Records, Nashville). With her various bands, she has opened for Leon Russell, Edgar Winter, Jerry Lee Lewis, Don McLean and countless others over the years.
Jewell and Rachel Rachel gained additional notoriety through television performances during her time in southern California, including the 1992 Los Angeles Cerebral Palsy Telethon (hosted by Brooke Shields and Henry Winkler) and the 1992 Lou Rawls Parade of Stars Telethon. She credits her then manager, David Brokaw, as well as Rawls, who was both a mentor and friend, for giving her these opportunities. Jewell also appeared for a stint on Fox’s Married with Children, and rounded out her television experience with a number of national commercial jingles for AT&T, MTV and Hecht’s Department Stores, just to name a few.
Drawing inspiration from a long list of past and present artists, Jewell continued to hone and perfect her technique during her time in Los Angeles. She cultivated a dynamic style that is at home in jazz, blues, R&B, gospel, soul, rock and country, as can be seen in her impressive résumé of achievements. In a review of Tin Star’s performance (when opening for Don MacLean in 1988), the LA Times’ Steven Hochman described “the vocal trade-offs between big-voiced” Jewell and Kerry Hansen as “echoing the classic duets of Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner or George Jones and Tammy Wynette.” Music Connection magazine stated that she brought “a powerful voice and playful charm” to the band, adding that “Jewell, aptly named, shines on stage, and adds pizzazz.” And when asked about Jewell’s talent, Lou Rawls stated that she had “the voice of an angel.”
When she moved back to her beloved Pacific Northwest in 2002, however, it was to those early jazz roots that Jewell aptly returned. “I’ve had such a diverse experience in music that it’s prepared me for this moment in jazz,” says Jewell, adding, “Jazz gave me a foundation to truly sing as a singer’s singer.” And while best known for her critically acclaimed rock and soul styling, it is with jazz that Jewell shines brightest. With her fresh, hip and passionate style, she has charmed audiences with her own trio, the Jewell Jazz Ensemble, and in other Puget Sound acts, including Mark Kelly’s Saltwater Octet and Paul Sorensen’s 17-piece Northern Lights Jazz Orchestra.
With a growing reputation in the jazz world, including such accolades as placing First Runner-up behind Greta Matassa at the 2009 Seattle-Kobe Sister City Jazz competition, Jewell is once again making a name for herself. With her 2012 freshman jazz standards release, My Blue Heaven, she has taken an elegant, evocative and stirring approach to some of the most loved standards of the twentieth century. Backed by an array of top-notch musicians, she shines in her powerful delivery of such classics as “When Do the Bells Ring for Me?”, “Cry Me a River”, “Lover, Come Back to Me”, and “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”, all framed by “My Blue Heaven”, her retro-tinged interpretation of Lena Horne’s classic American fantasy. Rounding out the album are “Wayfaring Stranger” and “People Get Ready”, reminding the listener of the thread that flows between folk, spirituals, the blues, jazz and popular music. From intimate guitar duos to fabulous big band sounds and soulful organ trios, this CD is a treasure. As Brokaw Company publicist, Diane Hadley, who has followed Jewell's career for a number of years, said: “From being the best, she's only gotten better. She's found her niche in jazz, where she can express the depth of her emotions. A seasoned performer, Cheryl is one of those rare vocalists that gives one chills of something extraordinary when she sings.”
Cheryl Jewell’s My Blue Heaven is available through CD Baby, iTunes and more. She will also be a featured artist on Music Choice TV’s “Singers and Swing” channel in early 2012 (see www.MusicChoice.com / MusicChannels). For more information on Cheryl, please visit her website at www.cheryljewell.com.
“Cheryl’s got 'it’, as they say. She’s a marvelous talent.
You just have to hear a few notes to know she’s going to be fantastic.”
--Paul Sorensen, Northern Lights Jazz Orchestra
“Cheryl is a versatile performer and an extraordinary singer. To top it off, she has a fun, engaging style that our audiences love. Surrounded by a top-notch band, this is one of the best jazz shows around.”
--Rick Starr, Proprietor, the Rockfish Grill
“What a great show! The texture and tapestry of your voice is truly awe inspiring. When I try to describe your voice, I say it is an instrument.”
--A fan, the Blue Horse Gallery show