In a world where death and destruction fill the headlines of newspapers, Christian entertainer Steve Bell hopes to put a little lightness in the hearts of the members of his audience with his acoustic show next month; the Juno-winning singer-songwriter will be performing Nov. 6 at the Floradale Mennonite Church.
“It’s a very lighthearted, warm-fuzzy kind of evening,” said Bell. “Throughout the night I will be telling some stories and singing some songs; connecting with the audience the way I know how to.”
Currently working on his 16th album, Bell has music in his veins, coming from a music-making family. His mother is a talented piano player and his father was a preacher who went on to become a prison chaplain. The Winnipeg-native learned the basics of guitar when he visited his father at the prison and was taught by the inmates.
“It was a very interesting way to start out, but the experience was incredible,” said Bell. “The dedication that was put into teaching me was unbelievable.”
In the late 1980s, deep in the midst of a significant spiritual re-awakening (and a career crisis), Bell’s music underwent a transformation when he realized that his passion for crafting artful songs was incomplete without a profound connection to his Christian faith. This realization produced a wave of songs like the ones he plans to perform during his upcoming visit to Woolwich.
“My family had a gospel band when I was younger – my faith is integral to my music and I hope that comes through when I perform.”
Following this discovery, Bell’s musical accomplishments developed even further when he partnered with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
“It wasn’t on anybody’s radar that I would be doing concerts with orchestras or recording an album with the symphony,” said Bell. “When the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra contacted my office to ask if we would consider doing a concert with them, I was a little stunned. My first thought was that perhaps they didn’t know what kind of music I did. As it turned out, they were familiar with my music, and following the recommendation of some of the orchestra members they had concluded that doing a concert together would be a good idea.”
Once he got over the initial surprise of being asked to do a collaborative project, work began on setting his songs to orchestral settings and six months later he performed the world premiere of those 13 songs with the WSO.
As it turned out, the collaboration was a good one. The Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall was sold out, the concert received excellent reviews, and before the night was over plans were being formed for a series of Christmas concerts with the WSO the following year. The surprise invitation from the WSO led to an orchestral album (Steve Bell – Symphony Sessions) and an initial 13-engagement tour with major Canadian symphony orchestras in 2007. Since that time Bell has continued to perform concerts with various orchestras, both within and beyond Canada; this will be his first visit to Woolwich Township.
“I am really looking forward to meeting this community. There is something amazing about coming together as a group and being entertained. It brings people together and I love the opportunity to do that.”
Tickets for the show are $15 and are available at Floradle Mennonite Church (519-669-2861), The Gospel Lighthouse in Waterloo, Mennonite Savings and Credit Union in Elmira, or online from Bell’s website, www.stevebell.com.