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MUSIC Lesbian singer Jennifer Knapp continues to break new ground
By Tarina Hargrays

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Lesbian singer-songwriter Jennifer Knapp has sold more than 1 million records and crossed over into a completely different genre.

Knapp has recently returned to the music industry and will be headlining a show in Michigan on Friday, Aug. 11, at the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, Michigan. Joining her as an opener will be singer/songwriter Natalie Gaza.

Knapp who first got her start in the contemporary Christian genre back in the '90s, quit the music industry after being nominated for two Grammys and then coming out as lesbian. When it came to singing Christian music she told Windy City Times that she wondered, "What's the point? There were also some things I didn't agree with in the genre." She also added that when she quit Christian music she thought she was quitting music altogether.

However, she doesn't fully fault her coming out for her quitting music. "There were things in my personal life that I wanted to deal with such as my sexual orientation," she said. In addition to that, Knapp explained that there were several things she was battling at the time, but she didn't know how to deal with it in the public eye. "At some point things needed to shift and I didn't know what," said Knapp.

Soon after she left the music industry, Knapp moved to Australia for a few years with her partner—a move she claimed was "vital" to her healing. According to Knapp, Australia was a place where she could live her life freely and without judgement from others while also enjoying its beauty and nature. "People in Australia don't care if you're gay or Christian," said Knapp. Knapp, who has been back in the States since 2009, said the decision was not easy. "I debated a long time about whether I was going to come back," she said. However, those seven years of healing gave her the opportunity to find herself and her happiness. Knapp said that one day she plans to go back and grow old there but her reason for returning was to "reboot" her career. It was then that she released her hit album Letting Go, which crossover communities enthusiastically received.

Despite her departure from Christian music, Knapp said she believes that her fan bases that existed before and after she came out have since intersected, and she doesn't consider her fan base as a strictly LGBTQ or Christian crowd. In fact, Knapp said that she believes her coming out allowed some of those Christian fans to do the same. She also added that she sees her fan base as "all across the map." With this is mind, Knapp said she makes sure she doesn't let her identity as a lesbian define her everyday life. "Most of the time, I go throughout my day and I don't think, 'What am I going to do as a gay person? Life is more complicated than 'gayness' and Jesus. It doesn't dominate the conversation," said Knapp.

That being said, Knapp said she wants her concert to serve as a way to welcome LGBTQ people.Tickets to Knapp and Gaza's Aug. 11 show will be discounted for gay youth groups.

Knapp said that she couldn't be more "elated," not only about the tickets but having Gaza open up for her as well. "I actually don't know Natalie," said Knapp, who joked that she likes for it not to be all about her. Gaza is a local lesbian folk/rock singer who has been writing and recording songs since 2014 has quickly gained a following in the Midwest.

In preparation for her upcoming show Knapp recently released a new song, "Love Comes Back Around," on June 23, during Pride month; Knapp said that she believes her LGBTQ fans will be able to relate to the record a lot. Knapp, who has lived in Michigan before, said that she is "excited to catch up with Michiganders. I've only done a couple of shows in Michigan so I am absolutely excited to be back."

In the meantime, Knapp can be found enjoying nature or working toward obtaining her masters in theological studies at Vanderbilt University. She explained that she finds the study of Christianity enjoyable. When she isn't doing that you can catch her listening to her favorite artists, who include Tracy Chapman, Patty Griffin, Dave Matthews, Cowboy Junkies, Natalie Merchant and more. Regarding her favorite artists, Knapp explained that "they're driven to write about their perspective; they're commentators on their life and experiences and that's always appealed to me." This is something that Knapp said she strives to "emulate."

To learn more about Knapp and Gaza visit their websites at and . To find out more about Knapp's show, visit .

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