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). JazzTimes has called her “a first-rate storyteller” while Relix regards her as “one of the freshest voices singing today.” Jen has been featured on “Late Nite with Conan O’Brien”, NPR’s Mountain Stage and WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, Sirius Satellite’s The Loft with Mike Marrone and Mary Sue Twohy’s The Village, 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. Jen’s cover of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” was prominently featured in a recent episode of the new SyFy series “Defiance”.
Jen’s music reflects a diversity of experience. She is mother to 8 year old Maceo and 4 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.
After the original songs on her 2002 duo album Open Wide,her 2004 release Linger and her 2006 effort Ready were met with critical acclaim, subsequent 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.
Rosetta Trio served as the core band (along with revered drummer Dan Rieser) for the 2011 EP release 5 songs, which served as a prelude for 2013’s 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 Chapin faces her ‘Reckoning’ [with] her lush new recording which blends elements of jazz, folk and rock…” Los Angeles Times
“…potent, jazzy, layered…” Glenn Gamboa, Newsday
“sumptuous…irresistible…a surefire gem: the kind of carefully-crafted and sophisticated pop that used to be associated with Paul Simon. Yeah, it’s that good.” Will Layman, Popmatters
“Jen Chapin has a sandied tone to her voice, and her delivery has a quirky cleverness to it. Sleek and snappy material…intriguing.” George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
“very engaging…. Her warm voice and friendly presentation augment the wonderfully relaxing atmosphere emanating from this album.” Koos Gijsman, PopHeaven Magazine, The Netherlands
“..outstanding record.. her masterpiece.” Jeremy Williams, Yorkshire Times
“It’s probably no surprise that Chapin seems to naturally inhabit the characters in her songs — her father was Harry Chapin, one of modern music’s greatest storytellers. But Jen is far funkier than her father ever was, even as she paints sometimes grim tableaux of frustrated wives, struggling mothers and a challenged populace….That Chapin can find joy among “the ducks and the dreamers,” as she sings on the Sondheim-esque “Paris,” speaks to her formidable — and ever-developing– talents as a songwriter and a storyteller.” Peter Chianca, Wicked Local
“Like a good novelist, it isn’t in the climactic scenes that Jen Chapin’s talents shine but in turning the mundanity of everyday life into delicate lyrical poems.” Chris Griffy, Examiner
“As the daughter of late folk legend Harry Chapin, it’s not surprising that Jen Chapin has taken so naturally to intricate storytelling through song.” ASCAP Playback
“Reckoning presents the singer at her most mature and most incisive artistically, kindred to Janis Ian’s At Seventeen (esp. in Reckoning), as well as Joni Mitchell’s first flowering, but with some Meryn Cadell, Nick Drake (Let It Show, a beautiful pastorale), Kate Bush, and others thrown in….a winner.” Mark S. Tucker, Acoustic Music
“The NYC-based singer/songwriter has the confidence to write the songs the way they form in her head and you can hear the pure joy of delivering a song in the skin it should live in through Jen’s vocals.” Alternate Root
“excellent tunes…a gifted storyteller..” Jeffrey Sisk, The Daily News, McKeesport, PA
“lush soulful jazzy arrangements… Reckoning hammers home some serious truths about America.” Hans Werksman, Here Comes The Flood
“Jen seems to just let the words and melodies flow from her heart…which may explain why this album comes across sounding so genuine and inspired.” babysue
“Jen’s excellent writing and edgy style makes me think of Ani Difranco. I really love this CD and highly recommend it.” Bruce Greenberg, The Promise Live
American Songwriter exclusively premiered Jen Chapin’s new video for “Go Away”, one of the evocative and provocative tunes from Reckoning. American Songwriter also published an essay Ms. Chapin wrote about her personal backstory to this song. Watch video and read exclusive here: