Jen Chapin’s music is jazz-tinged 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 on albums Linger (2004) and Ready (2006) as “thoughtful.. worth-savoring” (People), “smart, observant, lyrically deft, politically aware and emotionally intuitive” (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), “addictive” (Boston Globe), “supremely confident, slightly off-center, and instantly compelling.” (River City Reader) and “brilliant.. soulfully poetic” (NPR). JazzTimes has called her “a first-rate storyteller” while Relix regards her as “one of the freshest voices singing today.” She has been featured on “Late Nite with Conan O’Brien” and NPR’s Mountain Stage and WoodSongs Old—Time Radio Hour, been honored by the USA Songwriting Competition, has performed on stage with Bruce Springsteen, and has opened up for Bruce Hornsby, Smokey Robinson, and the Neville Brothers.
Recent work has highlighted Jen’s 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 venues. 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, Grammy-nominated 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. Returning her focus to songwriting, Jen released a new EP,“5 songs,” in Spring 2011 — songs of ambition (and the lack thereof), privilege (ditto), anger, affection, gratitude, exhaustion, and humility. In short, of family. These five songs will join newer work on a new album, “Reckoning,” to be recorded in March 2013 with 5-time Grammy-winning engineer/producer Kevin Killen.
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, 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.