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This is how it begins: I invited Jane Krist to do a concert in my church. She came. Afterwords we are talking and I simply say "Jan, if there is anything I can do for you, let me know." There was. Jan was on a CCM label at the time and having difficulties. I ended up buying her contract, and the rest is history!
Jan Krist began writing and singing songs in Detroit-area folk clubs back in 1980. At the time she was a young mother, and a graduate of Berkley High School who had grown up in Grand Haven.
Over the years she began spreading her wings beyond the Metro area, winning praise at the nationally known Kerrville Songwriting Competition in Texas in 1991, and then releasing her first album of songs, Decapitated Society, in 1992. That album won praise from Billboard and other magazines, and Krist followed it up with 1993's Wing and a Prayer, which also garnered accolades. She was honored as Best Vocalist in the Acoustic Division at the Detroit Music Awards in 1995.
In 1996 she celebrated the release of the intelligent and polished Curious, with a show at the Ark in Ann Arbor. And then there was more -- Outpost of the Counter-Culture, and Wounded Me Wounded You. There are many accolades, but this one from Billboard sums them up well: “Her talent as a songwriter equals - if not surpasses her vocal gifts. She has an uncanny way of cutting to the heart of a topic and providing the listener with food for thought.”
Through it all she has raised her kids -- Amy, Ian and Michael -- and stayed in Detroit. She married Alan Finkbeiner in 1995. "And that's why they call me Jan Krist," she says with a laugh. Visit her website at www.jankrist.net.
Decapitated Society/ Wing and a Prayer -- Jan Krist
The very first artist I signed to Silent Planet Records, Jan Krist, is often called Detroit's folk diva, with her soaring voice, well-crafted songs, and fine guitar playing. When I first heard Decapitated Society (released in the Christian market with a strange title like that!), I thought it was Joni Mitchell-meet-God time. Wing and a Prayer followed that minimalist debut with a bit more instrumentation but more of the same great songs and singing. In this release, we combined the two CDs in a remastered version -- two albums, one disc, one low price. We went on to record more produced records by Jan, but when I think of her music, I inevitably return to these early records as embodying the most pure form of her art. I owe my involvement in the music business to Jan, and though it had its hard times, I do not blame her for that. I'm glad to have done it.
Listen to Jan's "Someone" here (click twice):
Curious -- Jan Krist
Curious was the first record done for Silent Planet exclusively by Jan Krist. I traveled to a studio outside of Decatur, Georgia for the recording. Some say its warmth is due to the fact that it was recorded in analog and mixed digitally. I'm not sure. But what I love on this record is the diversity of the music and the well-crafted songs. More than any other record by Jan, this one rocks at times, particularly with that kickoff by "Time" and the placement of the title track midway through the record. This packaging is not what was on the initial release. We re-released it with new and much better packaging and the addition of two unreleased cuts. It's one of the few records that actually saw any significant airplay!
Listen to "Curious" here:
Love Big Us Small -- Jan Krist
After the modest success of Curious, we needed a follow-up, and yet we had a great deal of material that was out of print or unreleased. Hence, Love Big Us Small was a cobbled together record. WE had Jan fly to LA and record four new tracks with producer David Miner, "Song of Absolutes," "Tarzan Tells All," "Spirit So Big," and "God Have Mercy," some of jan's loveliest songs. Then we threw in a few cuts from Decapitated Society (out of print and not re-released by us yet), and some alternate takes from Wing and a Prayer. The latter tracks were actually from a completely separate recording of Wing's songs produced by Armand Petri. Petri gave the songs an alternative twist that Jan was uncomfortable with at the time, but she consented to letting us release for the first time some of these recordings here. I'm glad of it. They offer an interesting and refreshingly different take on the songs, and I think Armand was glad to see them released as well. (Jan went on to completely re-record Wing for her previous label after the Petri tracks were rejected, and we bought all the material.) This is good music, and I'm glad for this albums release even if it was a cobbled together collection. It works well.
Check out the great "Tarzan Tells All:"
Outpost of the Counter-Culture -- Jan Krist
Of all of Jan Krist's fine records, none capture the sense of place, of home, as well as 2001's Outpost of the Counter-Culture. Musically, the record is firmly in the folk music camp. Thematically, its focused on home, that is, home at the time for Jan, which was Royal Oak, Michigan. Hence, in the title cut, subtitled "Hometown," you actually hear the strains of the local high school marching band. Somehow, too, I suspect that the songs here are peopled by those who Jan has had contact in Royal Oak, and there's a sense of thankfulness evident here ("Thank You"). You'll also find Jan's wittiest song here, "Parallel Universe." I like the warmth and hometown feel of this record.
Listen to "Outpost of the Counter-Culture (Hometown)" here:
Wounded Me Wounded You -- Jan Krist
Jan's last offering for Silent Planet, Wounded Me Wounded You, has some beautiful songs, from the creatively titled "St. John Reads the 21st Century Want Ads" to her cover of The Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee." There's a little country twang here, as Jan's Nashville friend, Kenny Meeks, joins her for many songs. Truth, judgment, sin, blessing -- the album really speaks the language of faith without in any way preaching. Really, it about those who "need help along the way," about the "wounded," about us all, really.
Listen to "Blessed Are They" here: