The singer said she was once fired for refusing to have sex with her boss before her career took off

By Aurelie Corinthios
Updated September 11, 2015 10:10 AM
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Credit: Gustavo Caballero/Getty

Jewel has opened up about her struggles with sexual harassment in what she calls the “male-dominated business” of the music industry.

The multiplatinum and Grammy-nominated artist told The Hollywood Reporter the harassment started at a very young age.

“I’ve had men hitting on me, sadly, since I was really young,” she said. “At 8, I had men putting dimes in my hands saying, ‘Call me. It’d be so great to f— when you’re older.’ And just horrible stuff.”

When the singer-songwriter was just starting her career performing in bars and coffee shops in San Diego, California, she said her boss at the time fired her for refusing to have sex with him, leaving her unable to pay her rent and living out of her car.

“I’ve never been more propositioned by businessmen in my life,” she said of this difficult chapter of her life. “It was almost like they were sharks that could smell blood, like of vulnerability.”

Jewel said men would offer her rent money when she would be sitting in her car, writing songs.

“It was pretty wild. I never took anybody up on it, but it was interesting to see this side of men that basically would prey on somebody vulnerable,” she added.

Jewel’s big break came at 18, when she signed with Atlantic Records, and she thinks her traumatic experiences helped prepare her for the “male-dominated” music business.

“As men did approach me, I got very good at handling men in a way that sort of didn’t anger them,” she said, adding, “And at the same time using wit and usually humor to defuse the situation and to inform them, ‘P.S. Not available in that way.’ ”

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“I never slept my way to the top,” she continued. “There was never one time I’ve ever compromised anything. I was always willing to walk away. And I think that type of spirit that you bring just informs everybody that’s around you.”

According to THR, Jewel touches on these issues in her first full-length memoir, Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story, set be released Sept. 15.

Jewel’s 12th studio album, Picking Up the Pieces, was released on Friday.