An Evening with Jennifer Knapp
Saturday, June 3
227 Maple Ave.
E. Vienna, Va.
For several years in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Jennifer Knapp was one of the darlings of contemporary Christian music.
Though only starting out in the field, her major label debut album “Kansas” was ranked at no. 80 in a 2001 ranking by CCM Magazine of the “100 greatest albums in Christian music.” Not just albums for that year — of all time. Her single “Undo Me” was a No. 1 hit on Christian radio and came in at no. 94 in CCM’s ranking of the 100 greatest songs in Christian music history.
All that changed after she took a seven-year break and came out as a lesbian upon returning to the music scene in 2010. Now when the CCM world gathers or takes stock of its own history, significant artists like she and Ray Boltz, who also came out several years ago, are ignored.
She’s now touring just ahead of the release of new album “Love Comes Back Around,” out June 23, her third solo album since returning to music. She plays Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Va., on Saturday, June 3. Knapp touched on many topics during a phone chat en route to a May 22 concert in Washington state.
Jennifer Knapp on:
• Keeping fans engaged with new material: “If everybody’s on board and paying attention, I’ll go with it. Otherwise I’ll go, ‘OK, it’s time to move on to something else.’ I always have an escape plan. … It’s a little bit like choose your own adventure.”
• Her new album: “I thought it was going to be more folky and acoustic and very bare bones … but it ended up being really lush. There’s a lot of beauty on this record even though it has a very simplistic feel to it. There are so many subtle layers. … It’s not a typical pop record that some people may have been anticipating.”
• This phase of her career: “I don’t feel like I’m having to spend all my time on stage kind of trying to explain what’s going on or feeling like I’m being investigated by the audience. Now it’s more about coming together and enjoying the music we all know … and less about trying to figure out what our footing is in this new story.”
• Her fans: “It depends on where I go. There are some pockets where they remember me as a Christian music artist and are definitely going to the show to have that kind of experience. And then the next show you go to, they may be familiar with the longer version of my story and aren’t really tied to any sort of religious experience at all. Sometimes it’s a whole room of people estranged from the religious experience. … I’m happy to have either one. It’s just about connecting.”
• Going back to school for a master’s in theological studies: “I just want to be very educated and informed and not just having the faith for myself personally but (considering) what are the implications to us as a community. … I want to talk about the confluence of LGBT issues and religious organizations with a lot of wisdom and patience.”
• Being written out of CCM history: “It’s kind of passive-aggressive. One day it’s all, ‘Where have you been, we’ve missed you so much …,’ then you come out of the closet and they’re like, “Oh, never mind.’ Or they don’t even say that, they just back away really quietly. I have shed a few tears on that but I don’t really want to participate in that industry anymore. I’m not writing about my faith, although it does show up in some respects in my music now. … But I’m not there anymore. … They can stay silent if they want but that silence says a hell of a lot.”