Jen Chapin’s music is urban folk soul — story songs that search for community and shared meaning, powered by the funk and improvisation of the city. Critics have hailed her work as “brilliant.. soulfully poetic” (NPR), “thoughtful …worth-savoring” (People), “addictive” (Boston Globe), “smart, observant, lyrically deft, politically aware and emotionally intuitive” (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). Jazz Times has called her “a first-rate storyteller” while Relix regards her as “one of the freshest voices singing today.”
After the original songs on her 2004 release Linger and her 2006 effort Readywere met with critical acclaim, Jen’s recent work has highlighted her gift for interpreting classic songs — notably those with a message. Her 2008 CD/DVD Light of Mine featured songs from Van Morrison, Radiohead, Joni Mitchell and others, as well as live performances filmed at NYC’s Joe’s Pub and other music videos. In 2010 the audiophile label Chesky Records released Jen’s ReVisions: Songs of Stevie Wonder. Both albums were built on the strength and intimacy of live performances from small ensembles: Light of Mine was a collaboration with her husband, acoustic bassist Stephan Crump, and his “Rosetta Trio” with Liberty Ellman and Jamie Fox on guitars. ReVisions had Jen joining forces with Stephan and Chris Cheek on saxophones. The Jen Chapin Trio as well as Jen with Rosetta Trio have toured over this time throughout the US and UK.
A 2011 EP release titled 5 songs, served as a prelude for the album Reckoning, Jen’s first full-length album of her original songs in 7 years, produced by 5-time Grammy award winner Kevin Killen. Reckoning is “songs of ambition (and the lack therof), of anger, and gratitude, of privilege, and being without, of being overwhelmed but still hungry for more life. In short, of family.”
Jen’s music reflects a diversity of experience. She is mother to 7 year old Maceo and 3 year old Van Crump, who most often accompany their parents on tour. She is an activist, with a life-long involvement in WhyHunger (founded in 1975 by Jen’s late father Harry Chapin), an organization that champions innovative, community-based solutions to hunger and poverty; and is also active in the local and sustainable food movement. She is an educator, leading workshops and presentations to college, community and church groups, with a background teaching full-time in Brooklyn classrooms. And she is a student, with a BA in International Relations from Brown University, additional studies at Berklee College of Music, extensive travels and studies in Zimbabwe and Mexico, and an ongoing passion to learn more about the world, and its emerging pathways to greater social justice.