Award-winning artists sing the hymns of Christmas

Jennifer Knapp was never a big fan of Christmas music.

Award-winning singers Jennifer Knapp and Margaret Becker will perform Nov. 30.

Award-winning singers Jennifer Knapp and Margaret Becker will perform Nov. 30.

The Grammy-nominated, Dove Award-winning singer admits to finding some of the songs of the season to be “cheesy” and never really thought a Christmas album would be part of her discography.

“To be honest, I’ve tried to avoid it,” Knapp said.

But reconnecting with fellow award-winning singer Margaret Becker spawned an unexpected creative project – a collaborative Christmas album, “The Hymns of Christmas” – and the two will soon bring their talents to Charlotte as part of their 2013 Hymns of Christmas tour.

Knapp and Becker will take the stage Nov. 30, a Saturday, at 8 p.m. at The Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. in Charlotte. Tickets cost $20 and are available at www.jenniferknapp.com/shows.

This is the second year in a row the duo has embarked on a Hymns of Christmas tour. Knapp describes this year’s show as having a “real nice, intimate feel,” as she and Becker are the only performers.

“For this tour, it’s just me and Margaret – two guitars and a couple surprises along the way,” she said.

The concert will feature songs from “The Hymns of Christmas,” released last year, which includes the duo’s rendition of 10 popular Christmas hymns such as “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “The First Noel,” “The Coventry Carol” and “O Holy Night.”

“The show is a lot like the way the album started – Margaret and I getting together and playing some of the music that we love,” Knapp said.

Knapp – who released her Gold-certified debut album, “Kansas,” circa 1998 – re-emerged onto the music scene in 2009 after a seven-year hiatus, and has spent the past several years touring and adjusting to life as an independent artist. After her return to music, she reconnected with Becker, whom she’d met years ago when both artists were heavily involved in their solo careers, and the two decided to put their talents together.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time; I love what I do, but it’s always nice to feel a sense of camaraderie,” Knapp said.

It was Becker, Knapp admits, who had the idea for a Christmas album. As the two began working on the record, they opted not to create something brand new or focus on “cheesy, commercial songs,” she said. They decided to devote the album to the seasonal hymns they grew up with and sang each year on Christmas Eve.

“(The album) captures the essence of what I want to hear around Christmas time and the music I want to represent … The arrangements we’ve come up with stay true to the nature of the hymns and capture the essence of that,” Knapp said. She added holiday music has definitely grown on her since recording “The Hymns of Christmas.”

Knapp will tour the East Coast with Becker over the next several weeks, performing a handful of shows before taking some much-needed time off to enjoy her favorite Christmas traditions – spending time with family and enjoying the food.

“I absolutely cannot wait to get home and eat mounds of mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing. For me, it’s getting home and being able to hang out with family and sit around the table,” she said. “…That sense of nostalgia is pretty rich; it always brings a tear to my eye.”

Knapp is currently working on a new studio album, which she hopes to release in spring 2014. The album is being supported by pledges from fans via PledgeMusic, and Knapp is updating listeners regularly, giving them an inside look into the making of the record.

“It’s a long process – six months of really hard work before it gets out,” she said.

Find more information at www.jenniferknapp.com.

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