Jennifer Knapp has lived a few lives. Today, at the age of 45, living in Nashville, Tennessee she recently graduated from Vanderbilt University with a graduate degree in Theological Studies. Perhaps now is the perfect time to both look back at her start in Southeast Kansas and ahead to the next step in her career. Originally from Chanute she graduated from Chanute High School and attended Pittsburg State on a music scholarship.
Knapp released her first professional recording at the age of 20 while still an undergrad at Pittsburg State in 1994. She became better known for her album titled, Kansas that followed 4 years later in 1998 and the single “Undo Me”. According to Knapp she recorded her first CD in Pittsburg and remembers playing at Memorial Hall for a CD debut party. Her performance later this month will mark the first time that she’s performed in Southeast Kansas in over 20 years.
Since her start in Kansas in the mid and late 1990’s Knapp has traveled and performed all over the US and internationally. You might think that performing at your alma mater (PSU) might be a piece of cake but that isn’t the case for her. Even though her first three albums sold over a million copies she reveals that she’s got butterflies for the performance at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts on Saturday February 22nd. She still visits Southeast Kansas on occasion so that she can see family some of whom will be in the audience for her concert.
Since Knapp came on to the Christian music scene two decades ago a lot has changed both in the music business and society. At the peak of her popularity after being nominated for Grammy’s in 2000 for Lay It Down and in 2001 for The Way I Am she decided to stop writing music and performing. Her final performance before a long break and moving to Australia was in September of 2002. She’d revealed that the constant stress of touring wore on her and that she needed a break. In a 2004 interview with Relevant Magazine “she said that she was talking a break from music and leaving the future in gods hands.” Later in 2010, in interviews given to Christianity Today, Reuters and The Advocate Knapp revealed that she was gay and had been in a same sex relationship since 2002. She reflects back on her early song writing success and how the events of her life are reflected in her music.
After all of this, Christianity is still an important aspect of Knapp’s life so much so that she earned a Graduate degree in Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University. Knapp says that shes, “not just interested in writing shiny poetry but the kind of poetry that really says something truthful and that takes a lot more digging and a lot more depth.” She continues to be curious about God but today she’s just as concerned about being functional in life and how the two intersect.
To learn more about Jennifer Knapp’s performance Saturday February 22 at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts click this link.