Summer is my favorite season because it is warm and sunny. I also love summer because I can finally do things outside. The outdoor activities I enjoy the most are the live music concerts at the Ravinia outdoor pavilion. There is always an amazing variety of singers, bands, performance groups and more. Ravinia first opened its doors to audiences in 1904, and since then, concertgoers can hear wonderful music in the covered pavilion, or have a nice picnic on the lawn.
On Sunday, June 16, I had the good fortune to see one of my favorite singers, Jewel Kilcher, in her Ravinia debut. Jewel grew up in the Alaskan wilderness. She was homeless until she secured a record deal in 1994, with her first album Pieces of You, that contained songs based on poems she wrote. Her first hit single was Who Will Save Your Soul. Other number one singles from Pieces of You include You Were Meant for Me and Foolish Games. She is a Grammy award winner, and has recorded a variety of music over the years, including folk, country, rock, and two children’s music albums.
Attending Jewel’s Ravinia debut was a wonderful, enjoyable experience for me. I have always been a fan of hers, both her sweet, angelic, delicate voice and her music that is based on original lyrics and poetry. She has a very good stage presence, and puts her heart and soul into every song she performs. Although her voice sounded a bit tired and hoarse from touring, she still sounded as lovely as she did on her record albums.
I found The Ravinia pavilion to be a perfect venue for listening to Jewel perform her music. The stage was simple with just the microphone and her guitars. She sang acoustic, a perfect way to experience her famous ballads. The intimate setting with just her and guitar reminded me of the beautiful simplicity of her very first album, Pieces of You. Jewel also chatted and joked with the audience, presenting herself as down-to-earth, open person. I was also thrilled that she sang lots of old favorite songs as well as newer pieces including Who Will Save Your Soul, Foolish Games, You Were Meant for Me, and Hands and Pieces of You.
I generally prefer her earlier albums before she began experimenting with country and rock. But there was one song she sang from a newer album, that I really liked, I Am My Father’s Daughter. This was a sweet tribute ballad dedicated to her father and grandmother, two people who had sacrificed their musical futures to support Jewel on her way to fame. The song was very reminiscent of her earlier music. An added bonus of Jewel's concert was a "finale" displaying her yodeling talent!
There were two openers for Jewel that evening. The first, Patrick Lewis, is a country-rock and folk singer who writes a lot of his own music. In the past, he has toured as an opener for music artists such as Edwin McCain and the band, Hootie and the Blowfish. Mr. Lewis has also been a guest singer on music albums for Jewel (whom he is close friends with), Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum. Patrick Lewis had good, emotional vocals with a nice homey sound. I really enjoyed his songs as well, which contrasted relaxed music with strong lyrics. The other opener, Tori Kelley, had a sweet voice similar to Jewel, but not as strong or powerful. I enjoyed her performance of The Beatle’s wonderful tune, Blackbird. However, Ms. Kelley has been very successful as an independent artist. She has several record albums out, and has released a lot of her music online and on her own to get noticed. She also has appeared on TV in America’s Most Talented Kids and in the 2010 American Idol season. She has quite a large YouTube fan base. This was also the Ravinia debut for both openers.
Overall, I really had a great time at the concert. I loved hearing Jewel perform her earlier, wonderful music. The openers were entertaining as well. If Jewel ever tours in Chicago in the future, I will be sure to be there in the audience.
*Tickets for reserved pavilion seating ranged $60-70 and the lawn cost around $27. Lawn tickets were increased by $5 on the day of the show. Gates opened at 4pm.