Singer-songwriter offers organic serving of thoughtful musicWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A Thursday morning in Brooklyn, N.Y., finds Jen Chapin loading the dishwasher while fitting in a phone interview.
The mother of two boys, 8 and 4, wrote about the balance between parenthood and music for her 2013 disc, “Reckoning.”
“My memory of writing [‘Reckoning’] was late at night, as I was stealing moments in between nursing my then younger boy. I was thinking about this stage of my career and thinking about being young in jazz years, but decrepit and ancient in pop music years,” Chapin said and laughed.
“I want to make my mark. I want to be making music that’s respected by my peers and meaningful for my listeners.”
But challenges come up.
“Just dealing with the mixed signals that so many artists get from basically your parents — and I luckily didn’t have that situation,” the daughter of the late Harry Chapin said. “These signals you get about [how] it’s not going to work, it’s not going to happen, you’re not going to break through, you’re not going to have a career.
“Little positive signals that we may get, whether it’s a good review or a kind email or a positive response to a show, those things are so meaningful.”
Since her 2000 debut, “Live at the Bitter End,” Chapin has been creating a memorable, introspective blend of folky, urban jazz. Her songs often touch on social issues, including food inequality.
“You can never do enough to tell the story of hunger and how so much of it, especially in this country, is invisible,” the singer-songwriter said. “All of us can benefit from re-establishing the human tradition of being connected to our food and connected to the land, whether it’s a window-box garden or our grandmother’s recipe. We’ve lost that as a society. There’s a parallel kind of hunger, which I think is very healthy the way people want to stay connected with food. It’s a way to be reconnected to family, to community, to spirituality.”
She is involved with WhyHunger, which was founded by her father, and is known for promoting food movement initiatives.
Chapin will serve up thoughtful songs when she opens for Brian Vander Ark at 8 p.m. March 29 at The Ark in Ann Arbor. Tickets are $15; doors open at 7:30 p.m.
“There’s sometimes a false dichotomy between dance music and thinking music,” she said. “I want music that makes you move in your chair a little bit. That’s what inspires me, music with some kind of rhythmic tension and groove. I try to combine that with things that bring us all together.”