On Discovery’s Alaska: The Last Frontier, the extended Kilcher family lives off the subarctic land outside Homer — which is a far cry from where star Atz Kilcher’s oldest daughter, Jewel, ended up.
Similar to her family members who still live in Alaska, the Pieces of You singer was raised on a remote homestead without many modern conveniences.
“We had to walk 2 miles just to get to the saddle barn I was raised in… No running water, no heat — we had a coal stove and an outhouse and we mainly lived off of what we could kill or can,” Jewel said on her website. “We picked berries and made jam. We caught fish to freeze and had gardens and cattle to live on. I rode horses every day in the summer beneath the Alaskan midnight sun. I loved it there.”
When she was eight, Jewel’s parents divorced and she began playing gigs with her dad. She explained on her website, “He trained me well and I practiced hard, for hours a day, to sing good harmony and learn his songs… We sang at Veterans clubs and bank openings, and biker bars and honky-tonks all over the state.”
At the age of 15, when she was already living on her own in a one-room cabin, Jewel applied and was accepted to a fine arts school in Michigan — and eventually went on to become a Grammy Award-winning, platinum-selling artist.
As interesting as Jewel’s story is, so is the ongoing story of her family back in Alaska, which led Discovery to come calling a few years back.
“I guess Alaska is sort of a hot topic right now. Discovery was up in Homer, Alaska, where my family’s from. They were looking for characters and they found this family that still lives off the land. It happened to be my dad and my brother and my uncle and my cousin,” Jewel said in a video for Discovery. “They had no idea they were related to me.”
Even though Discovery didn’t initially realize that Jewel was connected to the family, it worked out pretty well for the network when she and Atz were able to write and sing the theme song.
Alaska: The Last Frontier airs on Discovery on Sundays at 9/8c.