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"I think it's neat," Jewel tells Billboard magazine. "I got signed when I was 17, and I never thought my career would go as far as it did. I really idolized John Prine, Tom Waits, that sort of [artist]. I hoped that would be my lot -- I'd get to have a fan base and make records and tour. I never dreamed it would get to the highs it had. And when it did I was quite concerned about longevity, and I've always tried to make decisions that hopefully would create a good, strong fan base that was really loyal. And that's what's happened, so I feel really blessed."
The songstress is almost finished picking songs for the 17-track collection, but says she is having a hard time deciding which of two new songs to include on the project. "In classic fashion, one's really dark and poetic and one's pop and fun," she explains of the tunes in question, "Two Hearts Breaking" and "Dance Sing Laugh Love," respectively. "I have no idea which one to put on; knowing me I'll put them both on and work out the publishing stuff on my end rather than choose between them."
The singer also invited both Kelly Clarkson and Pistol Annies to collaborate with her on the upcoming CD. "I just wanted to do some duets with some artists I really liked and some voices I like," she notes. "Kelly was amazing. She was a hoot to have in the studio. She had done 'Foolish Games' in several talent shows prior to 'American Idol,' so she really knew it. I'm such a fan of her voice and love what she added to the song. She was so effortless on it. It's neat to hear it in her new light.
"And with Pistol Annies, I love them," she gushes. "I think they're cool, and I was really excited Miranda [Lambert] and the girls wanted to be on it. We had a lot of fun."
The married mom -- her son with husband, rodeo star Ty Murray, Kase Townes Murray is now 17 months old -- released a collection of lullabies, The Merry Goes 'Round, in 2011, and says there are a few projects for grown-ups in her plans for the new year as well.
"I have a lot of albums in mind, and I'm not sure which will be first," she notes. "I have a country album written. I'd really like to do a follow-up to Pieces of You. I'd love to do a standards record; I grew up loving Cole Porter, and that's what got me into songwriting, so I've written a few like that. I don't know how much stomach I have for another big release with lots of promotion, so we'll have to see which way I decide to go."
Jewel's Greatest Hits album will be released on Feb. 5. She will hit the road in March for a 14-date tour to promote the collection. See her upcoming concert dates here.