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EVEN AFTER THE GEM OF A YEAR SHE HAS HAD, the Jewel in the crowd of female musicians making a yin dm on last summer’s Lilith Fair caravan claims to remain unpolished. “I’m not hip, I’m not produced, I’m not slick,” says Jewel Kilcher, 23. “I don’t have a big image thing.” Spoken like a true neofoikie even as sales of her multi-platinum debut album, Pieces of You, bring in very heavy metal at the cash register. Recorded three years after the Homer, Alaska, native wrote them, at age 16, the collection of achingly earnest tunes “has tons of mistakes in it,” concedes its creator. Still, her audiences are filled with soulful teens who can commiserate with a hotter-than-average hippie chick singing songs that she says are about “trying to figure out ‘Where do I fit in in the world?’ ”

The answer to that is, almost everywhere. In October she signed a $2 million contract with HarperCollins for two books—a poetry and prose collection and a scrap-book—both due next year. She has also made a deal to star in her first film, as the love interest of two men in Ang (The Ice Storm) Lee’s $35 million Civil War epic, To Live On. “Jewel is the perfect mixture of down-to-earth and ethereal,” says Lee. Her words prove him right: “I’m really looking forward to having my ass kicked by a new challenge. For me, singing and songwriting utilize only one part of a very creative body.”