15 years back, I was both freaked out and flattered, stepping out of my car onto the red carpet and into the press gauntlet for that year’s Grammys. As strange, wonderful and rare such experiences are for we “less grand” artists, it was a moment that crept into my confidence and left me saying: “Yes, I have and can accomplish great things.” From that moment on I would be forever tagged as “Grammy nominated” and that’s a pretty cool thing.
For a moment in time, I got to be in, around and have my name in the mix of some the most widely recognizable names in the history of music. That year, U2 delivered “Beautiful Day”, Eminem & Elton John shared the stage together and Madonna schooled us all about what it means to be a modern day pop star. It was overwhelming to witness, to be able to pretend I was a peer in some weird way, but I couldn’t help but recognize that I was obviously NOT whatever they were.
Nominated, as I was, for a Christian record, my portion of the ceremonies were off camera, during the light of day, and celebrated with much less enthusiasm than that of the televised broadcast. There are the much less sexy categories like Christian contemporary, spoken word and jazz that are recognized before the real party begins. After getting all gussied up, walking the red carpet, then sitting in the rafters of the Staples Center both fearing and praying of what might happen if my name was called I experienced a bit of a let down coming to understanding my place in the world. Compared to all that I saw around me, I was simple, far from grand, and was left feeling decidedly NOT special. Even if I had picked up a golden gramophone, I still think I would have been just as humbled.
While I was sitting in one of the most expensive dresses I had ever worn and starting to wonder why I bothered…B.B. King’s name was called (pre-telecast) to receive one of the 15 Grammys he would amass over the course of his storied career. One could argue that it would have been acceptable for an old man to send someone in his stead, but he came, sat through all the drooling madness of aspirational stardom and accepted his distinction. His seats were better than mine, but still he had a long way to walk up to the stage and give his speech. Here was a man, who none could debate, was and forever will be among the historical figures of modern American music and yet, there was little more than the momentary applause and another a small statue. There was little grandeur, just a token of appreciation, leaving me to wonder if he spent any time grumbling about having to brave the circus event or if he held any enthusiasm for gaining the recognition yet again.
He’d done this more times than any Madonna or Eminem will most likely ever do. I thought, in comparing his achievements to those in the coming broadcast, if any of those artists even held a candle to this man in terms of talent, or whatever measure of judgment I could think up. To my reckoning, it was B.B. King who deserved the prime time lights and celebration. Yet, he was there, in the pre-broadcast, stuck with the likes of aspiring artists and hundreds of also-rans like myself who wrestled with conflicting feelings of admiration and disappointment. Despite any indignity or slight I might have imagined he could have rightly experienced, he seemed secure in his own skin. He accepted his award with dignity and honor, behaving very much as the man one hopes he would be–soulful, humble and the embodiment of an extraordinary artist who has revealed life through music.
He accepted his award with a quiet pride Kanye West could hardly dream of. He was applauded and deeply appreciated by all, but his reception would be nothing like the coming spectacle. He was unhurried, humble and yet grateful. His speech, though unremarkable in terms of being quotable, gave me a glimpse into a talented man who was more servant than an entrepreneur. His presence and his contributions, though world-changing, are astonishing not merely because of his talent, but because of the humility and earnestness at which he embraced the journey he was called to. For whatever achievements he might be credited, his life seemed to be the act of living the experience rather than accomplishing some sort of musical world domination.
Throughout all of my Grammy experience, I was left feeling shaken. If the award couldn’t be the measure of talent or if recognition isn’t the mark of success, what then was I after? What was the point of my playing, creating or any career ambition knowing that even B.B. King, in all his greatness, is still just a man, who, at best, on occasion was thanked for his work?
I find myself, many years later, reminded, thanks to B.B., that it’s not the awards that I should aspire to, but rather prepare myself for a life of gratitude. The pursuit of any of our callings and the willingness to share our unique gifts with the world will never be fully satisfied by a trophy or a spotlight, but, perhaps upon occasion make for legendary moments all the same. If we are ever lucky enough to find our passions and be safely surrendered to them, may we all be so blessed by recognizing what a gift it is to know that we have received it. What B.B. taught me is that it is not so much talent that lifts us up, but rather it is the story of our “inner man” and character that ultimately defines us.
Thank you B.B. It’s not a Grammy, but sincerely, thank you for showing up that weird day and encouraging me from so far away. Thank you for having lived an example of what I hope at the end of my days will be: having pursued my own calling with abandon, honor and excellence.
R.I.P. Mr. King
Whew! Back home catching my breath from a fun and hectic April. It was loads of fun catching up with everyone at some of my favorite haunts. We played to a lot of packed rooms and had some really great sing-a-long moments to boot! The biggest surprise was selling out our stop in Easton, MD at The Avalon Theatre. The listening room there was fabulous and so were the folks who filled it. Thanks everyone for coming out!
While I’m always looking to make it to a city near you, make sure and check out my online concerts! It’s a great way to catch up, hear some stories and even host an at home listening party if you’re up for it! It’s a fun way to interact, both we me and with other JK fans. The next Concert Window show will be May 14th at 9pm EDT. I’ll be playing the entire Set Me Free album and chatting about how the background behind the songs right from my own living room. Should be a great casual night!
To tide you over until then, here’s a live video of the title track with a full band at my album release show in Nashville.
I’m actually toying with the idea of doing another online concert just for Kansas. It will take some serious practice, as I haven’t played many of the songs in over a decade. If you’re keen, make sure and stop by the Facebook page and let me know if that’s of any interest to you. If you’ve been to a live show recently, you’d know that it takes me some urging to break out the oldies — so urge away!
Until I see ya, yours,
To perk up your ears, check out the live video of my performance of “What Might Have Been” with special guest Robby Hecht. The footage is from our release party at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville. Good times!
Grab one of these new lyric tees on tour!
Hey all! Who's got cabin fever?!
So, after what feels like a long winter, I'm itching to get back on the road. Looks like I'm going to be logging plenty of miles on the road and in the air this spring. The dates are really starting to pile up … from some of my favorite cities to even a few new ones (check it out, I'm going to Alaska for my first time in April! Brrrrrr!) As always, the trips are always worth it just to connect with your smiling faces!
So make sure you mark these dates on your calendar! If you don't see a listing near you, make sure you stop by my Facebook page and let your demands be heard! (Truly, it really does help remind the JK Team of where you live and what venues you love!)
So grab your CDs, bring your copy of Facing the Music, and I'll attack them with my Sharpie. (BTW, after popular demand, be on the lookout for my new line of Lyric T-shirts! It's exactly what it sounds like, your favorite lyrics artfully (hopefully fashionably) designed on a great looking shirt!)
I. Can't. Wait!
Make sure you take a view of the TEDx talk I gave at the University of Reno earlier this year. Nothing makes the TEDx folks happier than seeing lots of views, so make sure you spread the word
as well. It was such a great opportunity to rub shoulders with some amazing advocates of social justice of all walks of life. In particular, fans of the Inside Out Faith conversation will get a glimpse into what my speaking dates are like, addressing the serious issue of LGBT faith inclusion with a mix of humor and song.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
It's that wonderful time of year again, where I dust off the ole trumpet and practice my backing harmonies! This year Margaret Becker and I will be performing The Hymns of Christmas live and online. No need to brave the cold, just turn on your computers, make a batch of eggnog and invite all your friends over!
The Hymns of Christmas record is, of course, available. So make sure you get yours so you'll be ready to sing along! And, don't forget, we've got custom ornaments as well. They're perfect for stocking stuffers and trimming your rockin' tree!
Come along, the more the merrier!
The Hymns of Christmas Online Concert
Wednesday, December 17 @ 8pm CT
Hey all! I wanted to take a minute and let you know how meaningful all the positive feedback over Set Me Free and Facing The Music has been. My knees have finally stopped shaking and I’m really enjoying all the great responses I’ve received.
I’m always grateful to get a glimpse into how music and storytelling can inform, encourage, and inspire us as we go about our crazy lives. It’s not just personally encouraging to know how much you’ve enjoyed the music and the book, but it’s also wonderful to hear and see how, when any of us share our gifts, that it has the opportunity to spread with a good kind of infectious spirit.
So thanks for all the emails, letters, re-Tweets and Facebook posts. Thank you for your gifts of support and your help spreading the word as well. When you get a chance, please take the time to stop by iTunes or Amazon, or wherever you can to make your review of Set Me Free and Facing The Music. As you may know, your shared enthusiasm helps create the kind of buzz that helps others meet new artists through friends.
So, once again, thanks for being my friend and helping spread the word.
Jennifer will be hosting a Twitter chat at 1pm ET/10am PT on Saturday, October 11 in honor of National Coming Out Day. Join JK online @jennifer_knapp with hashtag #KnappChat to ask questions and converse with other fans.
How do I join?
On October 11, search hashtag #KnappChat or join at www.TweetChat.com/room/KnappChat to see the conversation.
How do I contribute?
Tweet with hashtag #KnappChat or within www.TweetChat.com/room/KnappChat so that Jennifer and other fans can see your tweets.
As you can see, I’ve been hard at work, with both the making of a new record and the penning of my very first book! But after all the toiling away, I am more than ready to get out there and have some fun!
Much will be afoot this fall — concerts, book readings and much more, but of course, this would be rather boring if my friends didn’t come along. So make sure you keep your eyes peeled and voices warmed up. Let’s get together, make some noise and sing a few songs together. I can’t wait to pack my bags, tune up my guitars and hang out! See ya there!
Much love, Jennifer
Pre-order Facing the Music: My Story
Coming October 7