SAN DIEGO — Jennifer Knapp, the Christian folk-rock singer who recently stunned her fans by coming out, has touched down in San Diego.
Her one-night gig at Anthology tonight is the first West Coast stop on her first tour since 2003. She has hit the road to promote her first studio album in 9 years, aptly named, Letting Go.
Knapp was a Gospel Music Association (GMA) “Best New Artist” Dove Award winner in 1999, and two of her first three studio recordings were nominated for Grammys. She sold over a million records and played to sell-out crowds on back-to-back tours. Then she disappeared.
It was a planned disappearance.
Midway through her The Way I Am tour, Knapp said she knew she was burnt out and had to stop the roller coaster. Unfortunately, it was almost 18 months from that moment of revelation until she was able to finish her commitments on the road. The roller coaster was steadily barreling upward, but she put on the brakes and let it slide back down and settle for a while.
Seven years, in fact. Rumors swirled. Her label kept her fans’ interest alive by releasing three consecutive compilations, but she was completely out of the picture for those seven years.
Knapp, now 36, had taken a leave of absence from her celebrity and more importantly, from her music – the touring, the playing and the writing – and got back to the basics – in the outback of Australia.
According to her website, “she was happy to let go of all the success she had, to live a very different kind of life traveling to the most remote corners of Australia, looking to reclaim a part of herself she felt she lost in all the excitement of her accomplishments.”
A self-imposed exile, of sorts. She became a normal person – one without music – and in doing so, found herself and her music, once again.
When she left, she wasn’t sure if she’d ever come back, but come back she did.
Slowly but surely she began picking up her guitar. Those around her liked what they heard; Knapp liked what she felt.
Then this past September, she returned to the U.S. and officially returned to music. In December, it was announced that she was part of the new Lillith Fair lineup, and in January, a few new songs became available for download on her website.
Then, with her new record in the bag and her tour dates firming up, she began making her pre-tour press rounds. It quickly became clear to those interviewing her that she had found out something else while in exile – she was gay. Knapp spoke openly and honestly about the fact that she was in a relationship with a woman and not about to hide it, even to the Christian press. She had, in effect, let go.
In an extensive interview published this month by Christianity Today, she mused, “The Bible has literally saved my life. I find myself between a rock and a hard place — between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the ‘clobber verses’ to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they’re eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics, and various other Scriptures we could argue about.”
Knapp doesn’t mince any words on her April 16th blog entry, either. “I share my life with a woman. I have approached this relationship with gratitude, joy and humility. I am honored to have the support of my loving family, a caring partner, friends and people of faith who have accepted me as I come, while encouraged me to be who I am meant to be.”
One can’t help but notice the potential irony embedded in the names of her last two studio albums – The Way That I Am and Letting Go – and their similarity to Melissa Etheridge’s Yes I Am and the timing of her coming out. Pure coincidence, we’re sure, but ironic, just the same.
Half of Letting Go was written down under and her intention was to open herself up to new fans while still holding true to her beliefs. When it was time to hit the recording studio – it was with all new musicians – offering the freshness she needed to accomplish her new goals.
Again, from her website, “I am so happy to throw off any cloak that has been put upon me that would make any music lover hesitate to listen to my music. I am so excited to bring all different types of people to my party. I’ve written [the new album] for them.”
San Diegans should be happy she is taking her cloak off here. She is evidently enjoying San Diego ahead of her gig, as she sent the following tweet on Tuesday, “Getting new ink www.propogandatatoo.com in SD, Ca. Super Cool! Thad did the work. Thanks, mate! 1st guy!”
Anthology is the perfect place for her to start her tour. It has just the right amount of acoustics and intimacy needed for her to get back in touch with her old fans and to woo her new audience.
Maybe she’ll even show off her new ink.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the Pawnshop Kings start at 7:30. Tickets range from $7 to $30 with varying levels of comfort, seating options and viewing angles.
There is a $15 food and beverage minimum for most seats. If you get there late and happen to get stuck with a General Admission or 3/4 view, all is not lost; you can still listen live and watch her image on one of Anthology’s many big screen TVs situated throughout the venue.
Anthology is located at 1337 India St, San Diego, CA 92101. For more information, call (619) 595-0300.
Morgan M. Hurley is the Copy Editor for SDGLN. She can be reached at (877) 727-5446, x710 or via e-mail at [email protected]