Jennifer Knapp Readies New Album, Releases Memoir — Hear Her New Song, ‘Why Wait’ [Exclusive Premiere]
Jennifer Knapp is preparing the release of a new album, and she’s letting readers of The Boot hear one of the new tracks first.
Knapp was one of the brightest lights in contemporary Christian music from the release of her debut album ‘Kansas’ in 1998 through her third album, ‘The Way I Am,’ in 2001. In 2002, she took an indefinite hiatus from the business, and when she returned to music with the 2010 release of ‘Letting Go,’ she stunned the CCM world by coming out as a lesbian.
Knapp is set to release her latest studio effort, ‘Set Me Free,’ via Righteous Babe Records on Oct. 14. The set includes ‘Why Wait,’ a song she hopes can serve as an inspiration.
“It’s about, why am I going to hesitate to do something that I know I’m called to do and excited to do?” she tells the Boot. “And I think, true to form of what I usually do is throw in the pessimistic dark side about what happens when we don’t. But it’s all about just going out there and saying, ‘Listen, you’ve got the power and the skill and the enthusiasm to get this done. There’s no measure of an excuse that you can put between here and there, because you know that you want to do it.’
“There’s a point in there that says that we kind of limit our reactions to one another with all manner of excuses,” she adds. “But we can have a lot of fun if we stop judging ourselves and just kind of dive into the experience.”
Knapp has also just released a memoir titled ‘Facing the Music,’ which chronicles her remarkable journey through a difficult childhood, CCM stardom, her struggle to reconcile herself to the demands of being a Christian public figure and ultimately her return to public life and decision to come out publicly.
Though she doesn’t present herself as an activist, Knapp has become somewhat of a reluctant spokesperson for the LGBT faith community. She’s happy the conversation is even possible.
“I think in some ways that’s the biggest surprise for me, and yet the weird necessity,” she acknowledges. “With so many conversations about the LGBT community in the broader world — whether it’s gay marriage, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, all the DOMA stuff that’s gone through — I think it’s really forced the hand of religious communities to realize LGBT people are everywhere.
“When I was growing up, the idea of gay people was this mystery that no one ever talked about inside of faith communities because there was somehow this impression that it was a wayward kind of activity for a human being to have,” she adds. “Human sexuality is diverse, and you can’t necessarily stereotype it the way we think, but the challenge for the faith community is that they have to realize this is not a conversation that is just a religious argument. It’s just a reality that people have real needs, and human sexuality happens to be one of them.
“Brushing it aside and pretending like it doesn’t exist hasn’t been effective, and addressing it from a moral standpoint as if there’s a spiritual depravity for people who are acknowledging their sexual identity doesn’t really work either,” Knapp continues. “So having it put out there in the open and having real people kinda tell their stories, I think, is a little bit of breaking the myths and some of the stereotypes.”
Knapp has also founded Inside Out Faith, which reaches out to faith communities to educate leadership, participants and others on issues of LGBT inclusion and affirmation in religious environments. Through that, as well as her music, book and upcoming book readings and Q&A sessions, she hopes that she can have a real impact.
“The artists that have made the most impact on my life are ones that have kind of left a mark in some way that made me think about something, that made me feel something or made me look at the world in a different way that perhaps I hadn’t before, to take time to sit and contemplate,” she says.
“At the end of the day, for me, that’s certainly something that I hope to accomplish. It’s not just that I want to go out and make money at it, because God knows us entertainers now — I always tell anyone who wants to do this for a living, ‘Okay — I hope you really love what you do,'” she adds with a laugh. “It’s not a forgone conclusion that you’re going to succeed commercially, so you’ve got to do it for the love of wanting to do it and connect with people. At some point, the value in continuing to make music is that it makes some kind of impact, some hopefully positive commentary on the lived experience that we all go through. I think that’s what art is supposed to be.”
Listen to Jennifer Knapp, ‘Why Wait':