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Albertans winning awards

by Peter Fleck


With the calendar flipping over to 2018, music award show season went into full swing. Closest to home was the 39th Annual Covenant Awards held in conjunction with Break Forth One at Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre.

Celebrating the best in Canadian Christian music, Albertans took home three of the trophies handed out on January 27.

That included a sweep of the Jazz/Blues categories. Named Jazz/Blues Album of the Year was The Dark Threads by St. Albert’s Suzanne Vaartstra. Meanwhile, Jazz/Blues Song of the Year went to “Jubilation” by Johnny Summers, director of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra.

The other local to take home a prize was Edmonton rapper Landry. Featured in an impressive video on YouTube, “Pressure” was proclaimed Urban/Rap Song of the Year.

This year, GMA Canada also finally awarded veteran Winnipeg singer-songwriter Steve Bell with the artist Covenant for Lifetime Achievement. The industry Lifetime Achievement award fittingly went to Bell’s longtime label partner, road manager and producer, Dave Zeglinski.

But Bell’s legacy is clearly ongoing. His latest CD, Where The Goodway Lies, took the coveted Album of the Year prize. The title track, on which he teams up with Fresh I.E. and Co-Co Ray Stevenson, earned Collaboration of the Year. And “Wait Alone In Stillness” won for Inspirational Song of the Year.

Proclaimed both Group of the Year and Artist of the Year was Manitoba’s The Color. The band also won Recorded Song of the Year for “Surprise” and Pop Song of the Year for “First Day Of My Life.”

Toronto worship leader, Brooke Nicholls, was named both New Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year.

Another Ontario worship leader, Greg Sykes, won Male Vocalist of the Year, with his disc, Reverse, capturing Inspirational Album of the Year, while the title track was featured in the Video of the Year.

Song of the Year went to Tim Neufeld and Ryan Mcallister’s zany “Overhead Projector.”

The day after the Covenants were handed out, music’s biggest award show, The Grammys, was telecast around the globe. Former Edmontonian Bernie Herms and his wife, Natalie Grant, were competing with each other in two categories. But both were shut out.

Winning both Best Gospel Album for Let Them Fall In Love and Best Gospel Performance/Song for “Never Have To Be Alone” was CeCe Winans.

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album went to Zach Williams for Chain Breaker, while Hillsong Worship won Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for “What A Beautiful Name.”

The final Christian music Grammy went to Reba McEntire, who was the Saturday night headliner at Alberta’s No Greater Love festival this past summer. Her CD, Sing It Now: Songs Of Faith & Hope was named Best Roots Gospel Album.

Among those in the running for a Grammy but missing out was Newfoundland-raised Matt Maher. But less than two weeks later, Maher’s Echoes project was announced to be among the finalists at Canada’s premiere music award program, the Junos.

The other Juno nominees for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year are Ontario rapper Manafest with Stones, and three artists originating from Manitoba. They are Jon Neufeld with We Are Free, The Color with First Day Of My Life and Love & The Outcome with These Are The Days.

In Vancouver this year, the Juno Awards will be handed out on March 24 and 25.