By: Heather Smith
In 2003, Jennifer Knapp had a successful career as a contemporary Christian singer-songwriter. She had sold over a million albums. She had a Grammy nomination and several Dove Awards. However, she was not enjoying her success the way one would expect. She was exhausted, going through what she described as
a “crisis of confidence.” She walked away from music and virtually disappeared.
Four years ago, Knapp returned with an announcement that would test the loyalty of her fans and provoke many conservative Christians. She was a lesbian. She released an album called Letting Go and began her comeback.
In October 2014, Knapp released a new album called Set Me Free, as well as a memoir, titled Facing the Music: My Story. Both works are honest and emotional and continue to spread what initially gained her fame—her message of love and faith.
Jennifer Knapp took some time to talk about why she left music, her journey back, and how her faith still plays a part in her career.

In 2002, you walked away from a successful career as a contemporary Christian artist. What were the factors that made you leave it behind? Did your sexuality play a part in that?
In general, I left my Christian music career exhausted. I was going through such a crisis of personal confidence to such a point that I simply didn’t have it in me to continue wrestling my private needs while living such a public life. I had so many issues weighing me down: crisis of faith and questions about whether or not I even wanted to be a Christian “on display”. I had a host of philosophical doubts about my role in the industry and many questions about what, if any of my own faith experience I was willing to share in public. Looking back, I’d have to say that my sexuality had a part to play in it, sure, but it was more of a symptom of need rather than a catalyst. It was, however a huge wakeup call that I needed to start taking my mental and physical well-being a lot more seriously, and so, I did.
In 2010, you came out and also released a new record Letting Go. What was the reaction of your fans after you came out?
I’ve experienced the entire, perhaps predictable spectrum. There were fans absolutely celebrating with me, the joy of returning to music after having come back from such a dark place, all the way to having CDs sent back and hate mail. There were Christians who went out of their way to be supportive, while others angrily insist I could never claim my Christianity again. Good or bad, though, my coming out has definitely been a significant factor for many of the fans I’ve lost and kept since coming back.
What is your relationship with your earlier, more faith-based records, Kansas, Lay It Down, and The Way I Am?
There are a handful of songs I still play live, but I’m pretty selective about when and where they get played. There are some personal, faith-based reasons why I won’t play some and there are some I just don’t enjoy playing. In the end, I suppose like any artist performing their own stuff, you keep playing what speaks to you and leave out what doesn’t fit...

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