Award-winning Christian music artist Jennifer Knapp has returned from a seven-year hiatus with a bang.
Aside from touring with provocative singer-songwriter Derek Webb and preparing for the release of a new album, Knapp is confirming what some had for years suspected – she's gay.
In interviews with The Advocate, Reuters, and Christianity Today – all published Tuesday – Knapp spoke openly about her sexuality while making it clear that she is not a pro-gay activist or even a self-described lesbian despite being in an eight-year relationship with a woman.
"I'm just a normal human being who's dealing with normal everyday life scenarios," Knapp told Christianity Today.
"As a Christian, I'm doing that as best as I can," she added. "The heartbreaking thing to me is that we're all hopelessly deceived if we don't think that there are people within our churches, within our communities, who want to hold on to the person they love, whatever sex that may be, and hold on to their faith. It's a hard notion."
Though not the first Christian music artist to "come out" as gay, Knapp is arguably the most prominent.
Knapp's impressive history includes over one million albums sold with her three releases to date – Kansas (1998), Lay It Down (2000), and The Way I Am (2001). In 1999, Knapp won her first Dove Award for Best New Artist. The Kansas-born musician later scored a Grammy nod in 2002 and another Dove nomination in 2003.
"She's like a fine cabernet. She only gets better with age," commented John Huie of Creative Artists Agency, Knapp's booking agent.
In September 2002, however, Knapp decided to leave the music scene over a number of issues – her "crazy" and exhausting schedule, for one – and has for the past seven years been spending time and soul searching in Australia as well as traveling throughout Europe.
It wasn't until the last year that Knapp picked up a guitar again and came out with a couple of new tracks that led to her return to the United States last July.
After a few sessions in the studio, it became clear to Knapp and her team that it was time to make music again, and so Knapp officially moved back to the states in August together with her partner, whose identity Knapp is adamant about protecting.
Now, the finished product, titled Letting Go, is slated for a May 11 release and will be the first test of her fans' loyalty given her sexuality confirmation.
While the decision to "come out" one month before her new album's release is a risky one, The Advocate said Knapp chose to do so partly because she didn't want people to love her music and then discover that their own values won't let them sing along full-throated.
"I think it's going to be shocking and feel like a betrayal to some people who live their spiritual lives through the music they listen to," Knapp told the LGBT publication.
Furthermore, the move provides Knapp a chance to be "wholly myself."
Currently, Knapp is on tour with former Caedmon's Call member Webb and will be until at least the end of April.
On Monday, Knapp turned 36.