weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Jewel honors Tony Hsieh with tearful tribute

Jewel is deep thinker, but she’s not known to be a crier, at least not in live performance. But she did shed tears when remembering her friend Tony Hsieh in a YouTube appearance posted Wednesday.

”Death is so shocking. I don’t know how other people feel about it,” the folk superstar said as she introduced “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” in Hsieh’s honor. “The brain can’t comprehend why you can’t just call that person anymore. The heart can’t understand why you can’t hug that person anymore.”

Jewel, who owns a home in Lake Las Vegas, met Hsieh about six years ago during a retreat at Necker Island, owned by Richard Branson, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The two would become friends, forming a partnership beyond just Hsieh’s love for her music. The two worked together on initiatives to instill emotional and mental health to corporate culture.

In September 2017 Hsieh invited Jewel to take part in company’s “All Hands” quarterly employee speaking event.

The artist, who is passionate about wellness and mental health, asked Hsieh for his definition of success.

“He said, ‘The willingness to lose it all. Believing in an idea so much that you are just willing to be wrong,’” Jewel recalled. “I guess that’s what it really takes. You have to put your whole heart in something you want you believe, and to believe in something with that much conviction is a rare gift.”

She then sang the song, with tears rolling down her face. The artist and chairwoman of the Las Vegas-based Marty Hennessy Inspiring Children Foundation said it was the first time she had cried and sang at the same time.

Jewel continues to live in Nashville, but her Inspiring Children charity’s headquarters are at Lorenzi Park. She has been planning to build a home in Las Vegas, a process delayed by recording commitments, and now COVID.

She said Hsieh’s concepts touched people of all cultures.

“He empowered me,” Jewel said. “And I’m a folk singer! But he empowered me to build.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.