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Atz Kilcher from "Alaska: The Last Frontier" stars in the Discovery Channel reality docu-series.

Atz Kilcher ("Alaska: The Last Frontier") was raised in Homer, Alaska. His father and mother, Yule and Ruth escaped Hitler's stronghold on Eastern Europe and emigrated from Switzerland in the late 1930s, joining some of Homer's earliest pioneers and homesteaders.

On the remote homestead, with no road in the early days, wood and coal for heating and cooking, and a Coleman lantern or kerosene lamp
Atz Kilcher Sr. in "Alaska: The Last Frontier"
Atz Kilcher Sr. Alaska: The Last Frontier
for light, the Kilcher family entertained themselves and each other with songs, stories, plays, and poetry, as well as many arts and crafts. Atz's mother homeschooled all of the children until a road was built, allowing the children to attend public school. Teaching creativity was an important part of the curriculum. Ruth was also a trained classical singer, who had great promise herself, before coming to Alaska.

In the '50s and '60s, the Kilcher family performed in Alaska and Europe. All of Atz's seven siblings are musical. Many of them have recorded original songs, and have performed. Many of the third, and even fourth generation, are also quite talented as well. Best known perhaps is Jewel, the singer, who also happens to be Atz's daughter. His grand niece, Q'orianka, made her film debut as Pocahontas, starring Colin Farrell, in Terrence Malick's film "The New World." Little did Atz's parents know how far their log cabin emphasis on music, the arts, and creativity would go.



Atz has been songwriting and performing most of his life. He and his first wife, Nedra, recorded two L.P.'s in the late '70s, and performed throughout Alaska. It was in their popular, "Alaska's Last Frontier Show," a multimedia dinner show performed in some of Anchorage's finest Hotels, where their young children gained their early performing experience.

Atz has recorded two CDs on his own since then and is currently working on his third solo release. He has performed in the usual wide variety of venues, mostly in Alaska, but has also performed in Germany, Switzerland and Russia. Many of his songs have been used in Alaskan documentary and tourism films and commercials. His songs also appear in several Alaskan, Swiss, and German documentary films. He has taught yodeling and songwriting workshops. His very favorite venue, however, is singing to friends around a campfire, on a horse trip, out in the wilderness.

Atz served in Vietnam, in 1967 and 1968, as a cook in the artillery. He has worked in sawmills, cooked in oil camps, raised cows and horses, built houses, and farmed. He holds a Masters degree in Social Work, and went back to school to earn an Elementary Education certificate. He did clinical social work with adolescents in residential treatment facilities, and recently retired from teaching elementary general music. He is now pursuing his performing and songwriting full time, as well as other interests and hobbies such as horse training, jewelry, and basketry.

The first of eight children, Atz considers himself the protector of the family. Among countless other things, he must protect his brother Otto's herd from the wide range of meat hungry predators where they graze. Southern Alaska is home to black bear, brown bear, wolves and coyotes that all consider Otto's cattle their own meat supply. It is Atz Sr.'s job to ensure that is not the case. Were the predators to have their way, Otto's herd would be decimated in a season. Atz, the range-rider, refuses to allow that to happen.

Atz keeps a home at the homestead, but spends most of his time in the summer at the head of the bay, the summer range, either by himself or accompanied by his wife, Bonnie. The head of the bay provides Atz with shelter, water and salmon for him to remain content and free from any contact with the outside world. He is free to watch over the cattle, play music, weave baskets, and most importantly, stockpile his needs for the winter.

Atz is father to four children. His oldest, Shane, recently moved back to the homestead with his family. His daughter, Jewel, acquired the musical talents of the family, left the homestead at a young age and became a worldwide pop and country music star. Today, she lives in Texas with her husband and young daughter. His youngest sons, Atz Lee and Nikos, still live on the homestead today.




Alaska: The Last Frontier Features Jewel's Family, Premieres Tonight

ATZ KILCHER (ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER): FACTS

Where does Atz Kilcher live? Find out here.

Birthplace: Homer, AK
Current Residence: Homer, AK





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