Steve Bell (musician)
Bell in 2009
|Born||November 17, 1960|
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
|Origin||Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada|
|Occupation(s)||Performer, songwriter, producer|
Steve Bell (born November 17, 1960) is a Canadian singer/songwriter and guitarist based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He is among the best-known Christian musicians in Canada and is an accomplished songwriter and record producer. Before embarking on his solo career he was a long-time member of the group Elias, Schritt and Bell. In 1989, Bell founded the independent recording label Signpost Music along with Dave Zeglinski, long-time friend and co-producer. His first solo album, Comfort My People, was released on Signpost that same year. Bell now has twenty albums to his credit. Among his many awards are two Junos, several GMA Canada Covenant Awards and the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Steve Bell has been performing music since childhood. His recording career began at 13 when his family's gospel band, The Alf Bell Family Singers, recorded an LP. The album contains some of his earliest songwriting. After graduating from high school he was a member of a succession of bands playing a number of different musical genres. For three years he played with the secular folk trio Elias, Schritt and Bell, along with Tim Elias and John Schritt. The group released one commercial studio album, Awakening, in 1982. Bell quit the band and performed with various artists (Rocki Rolletti, Rhonda Hart, Byron O'Donnell, Bob King) until 1988 when he withdrew from performing. It was during this period that his childhood Christian faith became reanimated and over a six-month period wrote most of the material for his first four solo projects. Faced with a lack of interest from established labels he formed the Indie record label Signpost Music in 1989 and released his first solo album. The first edition of Comfort My People comprised 300 Cassettes.
Bell has gone on to release twenty solo albums, selling over 400,000 copies independently. His tours have taken him all over North America and the world (2000+ concerts). In 1994 Signpost Music received a boost when Bell became business partners with his co-producer Dave Zeglinski. Bell was the Juno Awards' first winner in the Best Gospel Album category in 1998. That category was created from the former Blues/Gospel Album category, which represented the industry's recognition of Contemporary Christian Music in Canada.
Since then, Bell has gone on to release 20 albums, 4 concert DVDs, 5 songbooks, a co-authored book on the Psalms, and a 7-book series on the Christian calendar called Pilgrim Year. His work has earned him two JUNOs, four Western Canadian Music Awards, three Prairie Music Awards, eleven Gospel Music Association Covenant Awards (including Male Vocalist of the Year, Recorded Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award), and many more nominations. He has won three Word Awards for his poetry, song lyrics, and magazine articles. Bell's most recent feature-length album, Where the Good Way Lies (released on LP and DVD) included collaborations with local Indigenous singers Ray “Coco” Stevenson and Fresh I.E., was nominated for a 2017 JUNO Award for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year.
In 2006 Bell was invited to perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Scores were created by jazz pianist and composer Mike Janzen. Since then, Bell has performed 30 sold-out or capacity-crowd concerts with symphonies across Canada and the United States. Bell's concert DVD, Steve Bell in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, won a 2009 International Christian Visual Media Gold Crown Award for Best Music Video. For his "skill, his musicality, for his connection with the symphony, and for his openness" Steve was awarded the Winnipeg Symphony Golden Baton Award in 2013.
In 2014, Bell was the subject of a documentary by Refuge31 Films entitled Burning Ember: The Steve Bell Journey, for which a film crew followed Steve across North America to chronicle the many ups and downs of life in the music industry. The documentary has won numerous awards and has been broadcast in Canada (CBC's Documentary Channel) and worldwide.
Amidst his regular touring schedule, Bell has worked on behalf of aid organizations such as World Vision, Compassion Canada, and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. His advocacy efforts have helped raise awareness and significant financial support. A close association with the National Roundtable on Homelessness and Poverty has helped draw attention to the plight of Canada's marginalized. Having traveled extensively in the Third World, Bell spreads hope via his music and message to communities in India, Thailand, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Palestine, Kenya, Guatemala, and many other countries.
In recent years, Bell has used his platform to advocate for the building of Freedom Road, a 27-kilometre road that ended a century of isolation for the people of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. He has also been a strong voice urging the Canadian government to adopt Bill C-262, an act that would ensure that Canadian laws are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Bell's "effort for the sake of Indigenous communities" which has "brought together many Indigenous, church, political and other groups of people, including students," was a major impetus for Canadian Mennonite University's selection of him as their 2018 CMU PAX Award recipient. Crandall University also presented Bell with their 2017 Leadership Award "for an extraordinary career of sustained artistic excellence, spiritual vitality, and open-handed generosity to others."
- I Will Not Be Shaken: A Songwriter's Journey Through the Psalms (co-written with Jamie Howison), published by Signpost, 2015
- Pilgrim Year (Seven-volume boxset), published by Novalis, 2018
- Steve Bell — In Concert, at Home, and With Friends (1996)
- Steve Bell Band In Concert (1999)
- Steve Bell in Concert with The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (2007, review)
- Steve Bell & Malcolm Guite — Live at the West End: An Evening of Story, Song and Friendship (2013)
- The Music of Steve Bell (1989–1995)
- Romantics & Mystics (1997)
- Simple Songs (2000)
- Waiting for Aidan (2001)
- Devotion (digital) (2008)
- Blessings, volume 1
- Can God Be Trusted, volume 2
- Co-wrote "Tremble" with Glen Soderholm on his album By Faint Degrees (Pilgrim Gargoyle Recording, 2000)
- Co-wrote "These Are The Ones" with Glen Soderholm on his album This Bright Sadness (Signpost, 2008)
- "Everything We Need" (2009, video) (with Fresh I.E.)
- "Where the Good Way Lies" (2016, song) (with Fresh I.E. and Ray "Coco" Stevenson)
- Mandolin and vocals on Glen Soderholm's album In the Belly of the Fish (Pilgrim Gargoyle Recording, 1997)
- Background vocals on Glen Soderholm's By Faint Degrees (Pilgrim Gargoyle Recording, 2000)
- Mandolin and guitar on "It Has to Be You", on Carolyn Arends' album Travelers (Signpost, 2001)
- Duet on "Who You Are" on Carolyn Arends' album Under the Gaze (2B Records, 2004)
- Duet on "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross" with Lianna Klassen on her album Out of Borderland (Dawntreader Productions, 2004)
- Harmony vocals on "All Is Made Well" on Glen Soderholm's World Without End (Signpost, 2006)
- Background vocals on "Tonight I Am the Wind" with Kerri Woelke on her album Where We Were (Signpost, 2008)
- Background vocals on "Never Say Goodbye" on Carolyn Arends' album Love Was Here First (Signpost, 2009)
- Harmony vocals on "Lord of All" on Jaylene Johnson's album Potter & Clay (Signpost, 2016)
Songs in other projects
- Window of Hope, "Here by the Water", "Burning Ember", "Ready My Heart" and "Psalm 32" (Gospel Music Foundation, 2002)
- Signpost Collections Vol. 1, "Ever Present Need", "Stay Awake" (Signpost, 2003)
- Sea to Sea: Filled With Your Glory, "Jesus My Glory" (CMC, 2004)
- Canadian Bible Society centennial CD: Good News Celebration, "Eventide" (CMC, 2006)
- GMA Canada presents 30th Anniversary Collection, "Deep Calls To Deep" (CMC, 2008)
- Sea to Sea: Christmas, "Coventry Carol" (Lakeside, 2009)
- Am I Safe? Exploring Fear and Anxiety with Children by Tim Huff & Iona Snair, "A Heartbeat Away" (Castle Quay Books, 2019)
Awards and recognition
Note that years indicated represent award ceremony dates, not the years in which qualifying albums were released.
Gold Crown Award
- 2009 Best Music Video: Steve Bell in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
- 2002 Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year: Waiting for Aidan
- 2002 Song of the Year: "Eventide"
- 2008 Producers of the Year (with Dave Zeglinski): Symphony Sessions
- 2009 Jazz/Blues Song of the Year: "Embrace the Mystery"
- 2011 Folk/Roots Album of the Year (tie): Kindness
- 2015 Folk album of the Year: Pilgrimage
- 2015 Album Artwork: Roberta Hanson/designer: Pilgrimage
- 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2018 Album of the Year: Where the Good Way Lies
- 2018 Collaboration of the Year (with Ray "Coco" Stevenson and Fresh I.E.): Where the Good Way Lies
- 2018 Inspirational Song of the Year: Wait Alone in Stillness
- 30 other nominations between 2001 - 2018
- 1998 Best Gospel Album: Romantics & Mystics
- 2001 Best Gospel Album: Simple Songs
- 2002 nominee, Best Gospel Album: Waiting for Aidan
- 2010 nominee, Best Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album: Devotion
- 2015 Recording Package of the Year: Pilgrimage boxset designed by Roberta Hansen
- 2017 nominee, Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year: Where the Good Way Lies
- 2001 Outstanding Christian Recording: Simple Songs
- 2001 Outstanding Producer (with Dave Zeglinski): Simple Songs
- 2002 Outstanding Christian Recording: Waiting For Aidan 
- 2003 Male Vocalist of the Year
- 2004 Artist of the Year
- 2004 Male Soloist of the Year
- 2005 nominee, Male Soloist of the Year
- 2004 nominee, Outstanding Christian Recording (with Sarah Bell): Sons & Daughters
- 2004 nominee, Outstanding Producer (with Dave Zeglinski): Sons & Daughters
- 2008 Outstanding Contemporary Christian/Gospel Recording: Symphony Sessions
- 2009 Contemporary Christian/Gospel Recording of the Year: Devotion
- 2013 Spiritual Recording of the Year: Keening for the Dawn
- 2015 nominee, Roots Album of the Year: Pilgrimage
- 2015 Album Design: Pilgrimage (Roberta Hanson / designer)
- 2014 Terence L. Bingley Award for Best Song Lyrics: "Oracles"
- 2015 Terence L. Bingley Award for Best Song Lyrics: "Long Love"
- 2017 Word Award for Poetry: "Freedom Road" in Intotemak Magazine
- 2017 nominee, Column – Single: "Red Brother Red Sister" in Mosaic Magazine
- 2018 Word Award for Column – Single: "Success: The Art of Staying Closely Behind" in Seven Magazine
- 2019 nominee (awards not yet announced) for Best Song Lyrics: "Wouldn't You Love to Know"
- 2019 nominee (awards not yet announced) for Poetry: "The Name"
- 1999 Cantate Award Citation (St. Benedict’s Monastery)
- 2008 Distinguished Christian Leadership Award / Providence College and Seminary
- 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
- 2013 Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Golden Baton Award for artistic achievement
- 2017 Crandall University Leadership Award
- 2018 CMU Pax Award
- Harris, Holly (November 19, 2006). "Steve Bell Seeks and Finds Connection with Fans". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- Forrest, Ben (November 1, 2002). "Country Guide: Steve Bell". Cross Rhythms (71). Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- Einarson, John (September 7, 2014). "Right notes, WRONG TIME". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- Hjalmarson, Len (August 17, 2006). "Steve Bell Interview Part I". Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- Emusic Canada review. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- Dawes, David F. (March 2004). "(News) Steve Bell offers a Signpost of the times". Canadian Christianity. Retrieved November 2, 2008.
- Signpost Village. Retrieved September 6, 2008. Archived September 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "Biography". Steve Bell. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- Fieguth, Debra (April 14, 1998). "Gospel Juno goes to Steve Bell". ChristianWeek. Archived from the original on December 1, 2005. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- 2009 Crown Award Winners at International Christian Visual Media Archived July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved November 29, 2009.
- Suderman, Brenda (April 6, 2013). "WSO to honour Steve Bell for his musical contributions". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- "Burning Ember: The Steve Bell Journey". Refuge 31 Films. July 1, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- "Campaign to help isolated Shoal Lake 40 First Nation intensifies - Winnipeg | Globalnews.ca". globalnews.ca. July 9, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- "Shoal Lake 40's Freedom Road hits major milestone as construction reaches Trans-Canada Highway". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. September 22, 2018.
- "CMU to honour musician Steve Bell with 2018 PAX Award | CMU". Canadian Mennonite University. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- "CMU PAX Award | About CMU | CMU". Canadian Mennonite University.
- "Leadership Award Steve Bell". The Growing Edge Magazine. Crandall University. 29 (1): 29. Spring 2017.
- Rimmer, Mike (April 1, 1998). "(Review) Comfort My People". Cross Rhythms (44). Retrieved October 12, 2008.
- Rimmer, Mike (April 1, 1998). "(Review) Burning Ember". Cross Rhythms (44). Retrieved February 4, 2008.
- Lennie, Tom (December 1, 1998). "(Review) The Feast: Songs for Advent, Nativity, Epiphany". Cross Rhythms (48). Retrieved October 12, 2008.
- Lennie, Tom (December 1, 1998). "(Review) Romantics and Mystics". Cross Rhythms (48). Retrieved October 12, 2008.
- "(Review) Steve Bell - Beyond A Shadow". Billboard. June 26, 1999. Retrieved October 5, 2008.[dead link]
- Rimmer, Mike (June 1, 2000). "(Review) In Concert". Cross Rhythms (57). Retrieved October 12, 2008.
- Newcomb, Brian Quincy (March 2001). "(Review) Simple Songs". CCM Magazine. Retrieved October 19, 2008.
- Breimeier, Russ. "(Review) Waiting For Aidan". Christianity Today. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
- Langmaid, Wilfred (March 1, 2004). "(News) Second generation a welcome addition". Anglican Journal. Archived from the original on August 21, 2008. Retrieved February 4, 2008.
- Dalton, Michael (October 23, 2005). "(Review) Solace for Seasons of Suffering". The Phantom Tollbooth. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
- Dalton, Michael (March 25, 2006). "(Review) My Dinner with Bruce (Songs of Bruce Cockburn)". The Phantom Tollbooth. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
- Breimeier, Russ (2006). "(Review) My Dinner with Bruce: Songs of Bruce Cockburn". Christianity Today. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
- Dalton, Michael (December 18, 2006). "(Review) Story and Song (live) Volume One". The Phantom Tollbooth. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
- Martin, D.S. (March 1, 2008). "(Review) Orchestral performance lifts Bell to new heights". Christian Week. Archived from the original on September 20, 2010. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
- Dalton, Michael (November 11, 2007). "(Review) Symphony Sessions". The Phantom Tollbooth. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
- Wilkinson, Paul (October 9, 2008). "(Review) Canada's Steve Bell's 'Devotion' - An Album Review". WordPress.com. Retrieved November 2, 2008.
- "I Will Not Be Shaken: A Songwriter's Journey Through the Psalms".
- "Pilgrim Year Books".
- "Pilgrim Year series". en-novalis.
- Dalton, Michael (January 24, 2009). "(Review) Steve Bell in concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra DVD". The Phantom Tollbooth. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
- "Steve Bell – A Heartbeat Away". Compassion Series. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- Steve received eight further 2008 GMA Canada nominations: Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year: Symphony Sessions, Classical/Traditional Album of the Year: Symphony Sessions, Recorded Song of the Year: "Deep Calls To Deep", Classical/Traditional Song of the Year: "Burning Ember", Instrumental Song of the Year: "Moon Over Birkenau" and CD/DVD Artwork Design of the Year: Symphony Sessions (with Brian Kauste). CGMA 2008 Covenant Award Nominees Archived September 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
- Steve Bell also received five other 2009 GMAC nominations, for: Album of the Year: Devotion, Inspirational Album of the Year: Devotion, Recorded Song of the Year: "Praise The Father", Folk/Roots Song of the Year: "The Lorica", and for CD/DVD Artwork Design of the Year: Devotion. GMAC 2009 Covenant Award Nominees Archived June 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
- Brian Kauste also won a 2002 Outstanding CD/DVD Artwork Design award for Waiting For Aidan
- These Canadian Christian/Gospel music awards were originally known as the Vibe awards. The name was changed to Shai Awards in 2005 to avoid confusion with the controversial American Vibe Magazine awards.
- The Western Canadian Music Awards succeeded the Prairie Music Awards from 2003.
- "The Word Awards (TWA) Information Page |". Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- Official website
- Marshall, Drew (November 8, 2008). "(Podcast) Live studio interview with Steve Bell". The Drew Marshall Show (JOY 1250). Retrieved March 30, 2009.
- Hjalmarson, Len (August 17, 2006). "Steve Bell interview". Next Reformation. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2008.
- Kendle, John. "Lord's player: Folksinger Steve Bell rings up Juno awards with style". Canoe. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved June 18, 2008.