Jenn Lindsay

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Jenn Lindsay
Born (1978-10-18) October 18, 1978 (age 43)
EducationStanford University (BA)
Yale University
Columbia University (M.Div.)
Sapienza University (MA)
Boston University (Ph.D.)
Musical career
GenresAnti-folk, Urban Folk
Occupation(s)singer/songwriter, non-profit staff, playwright, video editor
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1998–present
LabelsNo Evil Star Records, Waterbug Records
WebsiteOfficial website

Jenn Lindsay (born October 18, 1978, in Amarillo, Texas) is an American anti-folk singer-songwriter, anthropologist, documentary filmmaker, playwright and journalist currently based in Rome, Italy. Her music blends elements of folk music, indie rock, and protest songs. She is the founder of No Evil Star Records, an independent social action record label, and through it she has released ten studio albums. Through her film production companies Get Thee to a Nunnery Productions and So Fare Film Productions she has produced eight documentary feature-length and short subject films. She earned a BA in playwriting (2001) from Stanford University, including a study abroad in acting at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in 2000, and attended the theatre management MFA program at Yale School of Drama (2004–2005) but did not graduate. She earned a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) in Interfaith Relations and Ecumenism from Union Theological Seminary of Columbia University (2011) and completed a master's in Sociological Methods and Theories from the Sapienza University (2017). She completed her Ph.D. in 2018 at Boston University in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies, under adviser Nancy Ammerman. She is currently a professor of Sociology and Communications at John Cabot University, and also teaches at the Rome campuses of St. John's University (New York City) and the University of California Education Abroad Program.


Jenn Lindsay grew up in San Diego, California. From 1985 to 1990 she was involved in musical theater productions with San Diego County's Christian Youth Theater and Christian Community Theater. At Grossmont High School she sang in the Red Robe Choir under the tutelage of Edwin Basilio, and she played in a folk band with her calculus teacher Robert Ridgway, covering artists such as Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, the Indigo Girls, and the Beatles. She lived in New York City from 2001 to 2011, in Boston 2011–2014, and in 2014 moved to Rome to work at Confronti Magazine and conduct doctoral research on interfaith dialogue in Italy and the Middle East.

At the age of 13 Lindsay followed her curiosity about her Jewish heritage into commitment to progressive Judaism, formally converting at age 17.[1] Her Jewish involvement began at the Stanford University Hillel. In the Summer of 2001 she worked as the Program Director at Lights in Action. From 2007 to 2008 she was a Development Associate at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. In Summer 2008 she was the Music Director at a B'nai B'rith Youth Organization summer camp near Milwaukee. From 2011 to 2013 she was the teacher for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah year of the Boston Workmen's Circle Sunday School. In Rome she has written about her involvement in the emergent progressive Jewish community Beth Hillel.[2]

Music career[edit]

Lindsay released her tenth studio album Allora Eccola in 2014. Nine of her ten albums were released on her own record label No Evil Star Records, but her fifth record was released through Waterbug Records, an artists' cooperative record label based in Chicago, run by Andrew Calhoun. She has shared the stage with Regina Spektor, Jeffrey Lewis, Kimya Dawson, Alix Olson, Chris Barron, Erin McKeown, Lach, Girlyman and Toshi Reagon, primarily through her association with the anti-folk music scene based in the East Village of New York City. According to her website, Jenn plays music "for the jobless, the brave, and the indignant."[3] Her music is featured on compilation albums by the ACLU, SBS Records, Waterbug Records, and Stanford University. Her song "White Room" is used as the theme song to "Something Blue," a television pilot by Brooklyn filmmaker Emily Millay Haddad. Lindsay recorded all but her first and tenth albums with Major Matt Mason USA of the New York anti-folk scene, and works frequently with Bryant Moore (Sneaky Theieves, Bryant Moore and the Celestial Shore) on drum and bass arrangements.

She started writing songs after attending the Lilith Fair in 1998 and resolving to join the ranks of the featured female singer-songwriters. Her songwriting attracted attention when she was a student at Stanford University, where she headlined Take Back the Night Marches and taught songwriting to victims of domestic abuse at the Peninsula YMCA in the Bay Area. Jenn Lindsay started gigging professionally at age 19 while on a "year abroad" in the acting program at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. She moved to New York City in 2001 and was named the "best female singer-songwriter in NYC"[4] by online radio station Radio Crystal Blue. Since Jenn started touring nationally, she has played her songs in exchange for free catfish in Alabama, sang to a room full of friendly cowgirls in Amarillo Texas, entertained in Vegas, and played encores to Ladyfest attendees in Memphis, Brooklyn, Santa Cruz and Ottawa. In addition to appearing at universities and coffee shops, Jenn has played LadyFests, BMI Showcases, the New York Songwriters Circle, political rallies at Rockefeller Center, and many bars and coffee shops throughout North America.

Lindsay's sixth through tenth studio albums were financed by her fans. She writes that her album Uphill Both Ways is, "A declaration of independence, a love letter, a primal scream, and a homecoming announcement. It’s a pageant of change, growing up, grief, and the little things that get us out of bed in the morning."[5] One of the hallmarks of Jenn Lindsay's work is the grassroots, low-fi set up of Olive Juice Studios, where the drum kit rests on a bedspread, the microphone pop filter is a sock stretched over a coat hanger, and percussion sounds include apples and a pen dragged over the wire of a spiral notebook. To keep costs down on her albums Uphill Both Ways, Perfect Handful and A For Effort, Jenn Lindsay learned to play as many instruments as she could: the guitar, piano, banjo, baritone ukulele, mandolin, drums, keyboard, xylophone, the Vietnamese dan mo, the marxophone, harmonica and tambourine. The most difficult, she says, was the tambourine.

“Something good has to come out of the current economic downturn, right? Well, here’s one: anti-folk singer-songwriter Jenn Lindsay.”[6] (Amy Phillips, Village Voice) remarks, "Jenn Lindsay has her finger right on the pulse of the whole wide world of working people everywhere."[7] Rambles Magazine said "If some of her songs were given the exposure that they deserve, New York would be one receptionist short but the folk world would be one star richer,"[8] the impoverished struggle of being a solo artist in NYC sent Jenn out onto the road, booking her own shows, leading college workshops, and forming traveling collectives with other emerging artists. In NYC, Jenn's musical community is the anti-folk scene, a hub of musicians based in the East Village's Sidewalk Cafe, who share a mutual distaste for well-packaged mainstream music. Her music, "delicate and tough...stark urban imagery"[9] (San Diego Union-Tribune), showcases "a talent well-versed in the field of social protest music"[10](Stanford Daily).

Her music appears on a number of compilation albums: “Loving the Fair” is included on the Stanford University LGBTQ-CRC Center Compilation (September 2002). “Athena” is included on the SUNY Binghamton: Best Bands!, released by the SUNYB Activities Council (October 2002). “Red Shirt” is on Study Break: Best of Stanford Musicians, released by the Stanford Activities Council (April 2002). “Not a Sound (featuring Roland Marconi)” is on A Chance for Peace after 9/11, released by Educators for Social Justice (November 2002). “Close” is on the Waterbug Anthology 7, released out of Chicago by Waterbug music as an introductions to the musicians affiliated with the label (July 2004). “Jill and Jill” is included on Marry Me, released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to support GLBT couples seeking to marry (November 2004). “White Room” is on the SBS Records #9 Sampler, a compilation put out by musicians Michele Malone and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, released nationally in September 2005. “I Am Not Going Home Yet” and “The Well” are included on I, Even I, Will Sing, a compilation of student musicians from Union Theological Seminary (Spring 2011). In July 2006 Jenn Lindsay composed scores for two ten-minute industrial films for Price Waterhouse Coopers. In 2015 Confronti Magazine used her song "The Bird" from the album Allora Eccola in their short video about a demolished Palestinian home outside Bethlehem.

Documentary film[edit]

Between 2005 and 2008 Jenn Lindsay worked in the film and music industries as a composer, film editor and documentary filmmaker at MTV, the Sundance Channel, and several independent post-production facilities, serving as an Assistant Story Editor on the MTV reality show 8th and Ocean, Atmosphere Picture's Trek Nation, a biographical documentary about Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. She worked as an Assistant Editor with Zak Tucker on The Garden (Harbor Pictures), previously known as Body & Soul by Swede Films. In 2016 she co-founded So Fare Productions in Rome with Sarah McTeigue and Kiersten Pilar Miller.

In 2020 Jenn Lindsay was in production with three documentary projects. Minding Shadows tells the story of a Buddhist monk from Africa who survived the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and grew up to teach mindfulness and healing practices globally. The "MRP" is an 8-episode documentary series that follows a group of computer scientists and religion scholars using computer modeling and simulation to better understand the role of religion in terrorism and the refugee crisis. ShalOM is a documentary partially funded by KAICIID Dialogue Centre that recounts the story of dialogues between world leaders of Judaism and Hinduism between 2007 and 2009.

In 2020 Lindsay produced the documentary film Quarantined Faith about the suspension of religious gatherings in Rome due to the COVID-19 national lockdown in Italy during the period of Passover, Easter, and Ramadan.[11] The film has been selected for film festivals including Rome Prisma International Film Awards, The Vesuvius International Film Festival, The Varese International Film Festival, Venice Film Awards, and the Rieti & Sabina Film Festival. It received the honors of Best Documentary from the Christian Online Film Festival; an Award of Recognition from Impact DOCS Awards; Honorable Mentions in the Best Documentary competition from Madras International Film Festival and the Florence Film Awards; and the Special Jury Prize for Migrations and Coexistence from the 23rd Annual Religion Today Film Festival.

Also in 2020 Lindsay produced a short collection of videojournalism called Quarantine all Romana which was selected for screening by the COVIDaVINCI Film Festival and the X World Short Film Festival.[12]

Il Presepe di Calcata is 21-minute ethnographic documentary film about the Italian village of Calcata and its eccentric residents, and chiefly follows the handmade Nativity scene (presepe in Italian) of the Dutch sculptor Marijcke van der Maden, a resident of Calcata since 1984. The film is an ethnography of lived religion, simultaneously examining religious practice and religious object, and it explores the symbiosis between an artwork and its living inspiration. It provides a case study for how religion inspires creative responses, creates solidarity within a community, and acts as a platform for expressive nostalgia and meaning-making.

IBCSR: The Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion is a 52-minute feature documentary about the Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion in Boston. Lindsay uses documentary film techniques to explore and explain the Institute's various research projects. Through scenes in research labs, interviews with research scientists, explorations of the campus and surrounding city, and glimpses into religious communities in various locations, the film touches on many discussions. It broaches the scientific study of religion; interdisciplinary research; the complexity of "religion" as a study object; the dialogues between religion and science; the limits of science; and the value of scientific approaches to religious practice, communities, and human behavior.

From Alef to Zayin: A Secular Jewish Education is a 21-minute documentary about bar mitzvah students at a secular humanist Jewish community, an educational video meant to stimulate thinking about the role of Jewish identity, the idea of non-religious Judaism, and a data sample of how the kids understand and negotiate their own identities. It screened in San Diego, California at the Society for Psychological Anthropology/Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group Annual Meeting in January 2013, and is scheduled for a July 2015 screening at the International Society for the Sociology of Religion in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Jilbab (2011) is a 36-minute documentary on veiling trends for Muslim women in Jogyakarta Indonesia. It has screened in many Boston University classrooms, as well as in the Muslim Women and the Challenge of Authority Lecture Series (Boston 2011), the American Academy of Religion Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting (Rutgers NJ 2012), the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting Film Series, Chicago 2012), and the International Society for the Sociology of Religion Film Series (Turku, Finland 2013). The film is posted online in long and short versions.

Between 2013–2018 Lindsay was the staff documentarian for the Center for Mind and Culture and the Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion, producing short films for CMAC and IBCSR about the ongoing projects of the center, thematically centered around the scientific study of religion, the nexus of brain, mind, and culture, and interdisciplinary scholarship.[13]

In July 2012 she headed a film team to produce a short film about the International Political Camp at Agape Centro Ecumenico, featuring interviews with community members, eco-activists, scientists, and conference organizers, about environmental activism and the larger issue of grassroots activism and communities.

Jenn Lindsay has written about her use of documentary film as an anthropological method and how she uses her films as classroom teaching tools.[14]

Anthropological Research[edit]

Jenn Lindsay completed her PhD in Religion and Society at Boston University in 2018. Her advisor is the prominent sociologist Nancy Ammerman. She studied Interfaith Relations and Ecumenics (MDiv '11) at Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University in New York City, where in 2009 and 2010 she was co-chair of the Interfaith Caucus and the Chair of Student Activities. Her research concerns religious and social diversity and interreligious dialogue. In Rome her fieldwork was based at the Roman intercultural magazine Confronti. Her website reports that Jenn Lindsay "uses her research and films to encourage reflection about religion ‘outside the box,’ fostering interreligious collaboration and healthier human exchanges, and educating individuals and religious leaders about the realities and demands of ‘street-level pluralism’ in increasingly diverse communities.[15]

Lindsay started her career as an investigative fieldworker in 1998 in the Peruvian highlands, where she wrote about Andean woman's rural lives and their use of religious symbols and rituals to order their lives. This fieldwork explored the field of ethnoastronomy with indigenous communities in Northern Peru, charting how locals syncretically combine naturistic Pachamama spirit imagery with imported Catholic images to interpret celestial phenomena such as constellations, eclipses, and weather patterns. In 2010 she lived for four months in Jogjakarta, Indonesia and conducted ethnographic research on Catholic/Muslim couples in Central Java. In Summer 2012 she was sponsored by the American Society for Psychological Anthropology to study intermarriage among Roman Jews.

In Spring 2013 she was the Boston University Film Society's Featured Lecturer for the "Religion and Film Series.”

Between 2010 and 2014 Jenn Lindsay was a member of the planning committee for the International Political Camp at Agape Centro Ecumenico, an ecumenical center in Northern Italy with roots in post-WWII peace movement. In July 2012 as a guest lecturer to the International Theological Camp to deliver a lecture entitled "Howard Thurman, Mysticism, and Social Action.”

For her PhD dissertation fieldwork in 2014 and 2015 Jenn served as a volunteer and ethnographer of the Roman intercultural magazine Confronti. She researched interfaith dialogue activity in the city of Rome.

In 2014 and 2015 Jenn Lindsay traveled throughout Palestine and Israel with journalists of Confronti magazine. These press tours were part of a partnership between Confronti and Holy Land Trust.


Since 2011 Jenn Lindsay has been a featured Contributing Scholar of State of Formation, the online platform of the Journal of Inter-religious Studies.[16] Lindsay's frequent articles for articles for State of Formation explore religious, theological, social, and psychological themes. In July 2012 she was named Writer of the Month for an article she published about multiple religious belonging.[17] Her piece on the election of Pope France was the site's Featured Article of March 2013.[18]

In 2001 Jenn Lindsay received a degree in playwriting from Stanford University. Her plays feature strong female characters exploring themes of history, memory, fear, and sexuality. Her play The Grandmother Project was supported in development by a Stanford Humanities Major Grant in Playwriting and the Stanford University Jewish Studies Program, as well as private Jewish family donors form the Bay Area. The play was produced in February 2001 by Highlighter's Theatre Troupe at Stanford University, in April 2001 at the British National Student Drama Festival in Scarborough UK, and in August 2001 as a staged reading by A Traveling Jewish Theatre in San Francisco, CA.

Her play The History of a Liar was produced in January 2001 by Ram's Head Theatrical Society at Stanford University and featured fellow Stanford University alumni Danny Jacobs and Kathryn Sigismund. Her play Body of Work was produced as a staged reading in March 2001 by the Stanford University Feminist Studies Program. Her play The Gala was produced in May 2000 at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts in Liverpool UK.

In 2001 she received Commendations for Playwriting and Acting from the British National Student Drama Festival, and a recognition for Meritorious Contribution to Playwriting by the American College Theater Festival: Meritorious Contribution to Playwriting. In 2000 she received a Commendation for Excellent Drama Criticism from the British National Student Drama Festival.


  • Bring It On (2000)
  • The Story of What Works (2001)
  • Gotta Lotta (2002)
  • Fired! (2003)
  • The Last New York Horn (2004)
  • Uphill Both Ways (2006)
  • Perfect Handful (2006)
  • A For Effort (2008)
  • Prospect Hearts (2011)
  • Allora Eccola (2014)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Scholar of religion tells her Jewish journey | San Diego Jewish World". Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  2. ^ "An Improvised Family: Yom Kippur with Rome's Progressive Jews". Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  3. ^ Breath
  4. ^ lindsay Archived May 13, 2008(Date mismatch), at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ CD Baby: JENN LINDSAY: Uphill Both Ways
  6. ^ CD Baby: JENN LINDSAY: Fired!
  7. ^ "Jenn Lindsay – Fired! album review – Smother Magazine". Archived from the original on November 10, 2007. Retrieved March 6, 2008.
  8. ^ Jenn Lindsay, Gotta Lotta
  9. ^ The Public Approval Tour – San Diego Entertainment Guide at
  10. ^ Stanford grad Lindsay and her Antifolk set to perform – The Stanford Daily Online Archived November 1, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Documenting How Pandemic Lockdown Changed Eternal City's Religions". Boston University. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  12. ^ "Quarantine alla Romana: Video Documentary Series by Professor Jenn Lindsay". John Cabot University News. May 2, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  13. ^ "Videos about the Boston University Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion on Vimeo". Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  14. ^ "". Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  15. ^ "". Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  16. ^ "Jenn Lindsay". Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  17. ^ "Multiple Belonging: Thoughts on Belonging to More Than One Religion". Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  18. ^ "The Election of the New Hope: Dispatch from Rome". Retrieved September 27, 2017.

External links[edit]