By MIKEL TOOMBS
Seattle’s Town Hall prides itself on being a forum for controversial subjects. And the venue may have been prescient when it booked million-selling, Grammy-nominated Christian singer-songwriter Jennifer Knapp for a solo show on April 29.
Trouble is, Knapp canceled her appearance here, citing “routing/schedule changes.” It seemed a bit odd, since she’s playing the 28th in Spokane and then she’s off for over a week, until she’s back home in Nashville. And any erupting volcano that might disrupt her travel plans is of her own making.
Knapp, via twin articles in Christianity Today and The Advocate, has come out as a lesbian, confirming rumors that had been percolating at least since she took a break from the music scene seven years ago (it turns out she’d been living with her partner in Sydney).
She anticipated the molten anger of some in the Christian community, in a song on her upcoming album, “Letting Go,” due May 11: “I know they’ll bury me,” she sings, “before they hear the full story.”
Knapp might have hinted at her orientation, perhaps unwittingly, even before she began her hiatus. When I spoke with her in 2000 about her participation the previous summer in the lesbian-friendly Lilith Fair (Knapp performs at the Salt Lake City stop on this year’s Lilith tour), she said, “It was just a really great honor to be encouraged by your role models,” then insisted she “misspoke” when that declaration was met with surprise.
“I wouldn’t say role models, but definitely inspiring artists, as far as their musicianship, their creativity and the passion that they put behind their music. I really enjoyed seeing The Indigo Girls break some amazing new ground as female artists.”
Even a decade ago, Knapp, who broke through with the ’98 album “Kansas” (she’s from there, which could explain the “routing/schedule changes”) and single “Undo Me,” acknowledged that “it’s actually been a little bit of a thing to kind of stretch the Christian community a little bit, to say, Hey, I’m a woman and I have a very strong way of presenting myself at times.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Mikel Toombs writes a weekly music column for the San Diego News Network.)