Folk and faith, Jennifer Knapp performs April 9 and 10

Kicking off UAA’s fourth annual Safe Zone week, musician Jennifer Knapp performed a concert and gave a personal lecture about her faith and self-discovery.

Knapp grew up in rural Kansas and received a music scholarship from Pittsburgh State University for her talent in classical trumpet. It was here she discovered Christianity and a love of contemporary folk music.

Knapp incorporated her spirituality and faith into her contemporary folk music since 1994, when her first album, “Circle Back,” came out. Knapp’s second album, “Wishing,” earned critical acclaim and the attention of Gotee Records in Nashville, Tennessee.

Signing with Gotee Records, Knapp released her third album, “Kansas,” which was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. Eight albums, a hiatus and two Grammy nominations later, Jennifer Knapp is back in the music scene and is ready to share her love of folk and faith.

UAA Student Activities proudly presented Knapp as a part of her “Inside Out Faith” Tour. Knapp gave a lecture April 9 and performed on April 10 as part of Safe Zone week.

“I thought the event went well,” said Student Activities staffer Leslie London. “I felt the audience was engaged and some of the members of the audience seemed to really connect with Jennifer.”

Both events had a strong turnout, but the numbers didn’t interfere with the intimate connection the audience formed with Knapp.

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“For any event we always hope to have a large attendance, but as long as one student shows up and enjoys the event, I feel it’s a success. … I felt everyone in attendance came out of it with a sense of appreciation and satisfaction, which is what we hope for any of our events,” London said. “There were also many attendees who remained after and spoke personally with Jennifer and shared their own stories. I think when an event can have such an intimate connection to the individuals present, then we have certainly succeeded.”

During her performance and lecture, Knapp emphasized that her faith and sexual orientation can coincide.

Former UAA student Jon Mobley, who was raised Catholic and has held on to his faith through his adult life, reflected on Christ and homosexuality in his own life.

“Being raised as a Catholic was incredibly fearful when I realized my sexuality and the tense relationship it has with Christianity. I was never told that gays are bad or, ‘Homosexuality will send you to hell,’ but I was exposed to it through media and other outlets. Everyone has heard that battle,” Mobley said. “However, as I grew older and began to think for myself and understand more about religion, my sexuality and the connection, I’ve come to the realization that what I do in the bedroom has no effect on my relationship with God. I don’t go to church, but my faith and relationship with God is still strong. And I am a firm believer. You can be gay and believe in God. The way I see it, I’m going to live my life to the best of my ability, and if being gay is wrong, I’ll take it up with the Lord at the pearly gates.”

Knapp has a similar view as Mobley. An audience member asked Knapp what her view on gay marriage was.

“I value the right for anyone to have a sacred experience, whatever that means to them. Marriage is different to everyone. Sacred or a contract or an agreement between two people. … There’s complexity,” Knapp said.

Knapp touched students and the public with her story and inspired people to be themselves and to do what makes them happy.