In the late 90s, you would be hard-pressed not to find posters of bands like Audio Adrenaline, Stephen Curtis Chapman, and Jennifer Knapp in youth group meeting rooms around the country. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with former Contemporary Christian Music Artist and Grammy-nominated Jennifer Knapp on the latest episode of the UNenlightenment podcast.
If you are unfamiliar with Jennifer Knapp, she burst onto the Contemporary Christian Music scene in the late 90’s with her unique rock indie sound. Jennifer Knapp’s meteoric rise began with her first album Kansas, which was certified Gold. Followed by her second album Lay It Down which found itself number 1 on the Billboard Charts.
Jennifer’s mix of indie pop with acoustic rock made Christian gen Xers rock in the late 90s early 00s. Jennifer’s acoustic style and presence were a welcome reprieve from the over-produced loud rock bands of the era.
In my interview, we travel with Jennifer from early adulthood when she was steeped in the evangelical Christian music scene to her “coming out” as well as getting a sneak peek into her current projects and advocacy.
From being a best-selling CCM artist to being an advocate for the LGBTQ community Jennifer Knapp’s journey through the Christian faith has been a unique one to be sure. Unlike most who struggle to get into the music industry, Jennifer found herself immersed in it quickly. Mostly at the urging of fellow college bandmates Jennifer’s unique sound caught the attention of executives at Gotee records.
However, as quickly as it all began it faded away. Being one of the faces on the Contemporary Christian Music scene it was not long before Jennifer was asked to participate in events like True Love Waits. Understanding the danger that programs like True Love Waits posed for young girls Jennifer refused to participate. It would not be long before she was inevitably blackballed within the industry, and she left the Christian music scene.
However, what would be detrimental for most served as a wake-up call for Jennifer. She took the time to “find” herself and her faith. Struggling to reconcile her relationship with God with what she was seeing in the church required that she begin deconstructing her faith and to begin understanding God in new ways.
For seven years Jennifer Was quiet and refused to play. But then 2010 came and she forced herself to confront some of the changes that were going on in her life. Jennifer Knapp began to make waves again, but this time it was not with cool acoustic melodies. No, this was when Jennifer decided to confront rumors that had been circulating about her sexuality.
Unbeholden to anyone other than her convictions and her reconstructed faith Jennifer decided to confront the rumors by officially “coming out”. This was necessary if she ever wanted the public to move on and appreciate her music again. Coming out would allow her to gauge the climate of those fans that once loved her music.
Surprisingly, it was then that Jennifer began to feel the love from those who wanted to support her and her music. She began to receive invitations from Churches who wanted to hear her music again – Promising safety and security for her to perform.
This was around the same time that she released her new album Letting Go. No doubt a testimony to her experiences over the last few years. Her new music had the same edge but contained the maturity of one who had been through some things. Jennifer’s music had always been thoughtful but these new tunes she was releasing were personal and emotional.
These days Jennifer has come full circle. At 48, Jennifer is still rocking it – though admittedly, with a little less energy than in her younger years. However, what she lacks in energy she makes up for in her ability to write sophisticated and thought-provoking music.
Jennifer leaves her mark on those she encounters. The same is true with this writer. Jennifer takes her faith seriously and anyone who has had the privilege to encounter her on a personal level will testify that her charisma and mental acuity are in equal measure.
Check out our conversation by visiting the link below.
You can purchase the book UNenlightenment HERE.