Christian singer/songwriter Steve Bell was back performing in November and early December. Photo courtesy Steve Bell

Steve Bell back in his performing element

  • December 22, 2022

Canadian Christian singer-songwriter Steve Bell is back on the road and sharing his music with live audiences for the first time in two-and-a-half years. 

Like all musical performers, Bell’s ability to stage live shows was impeded by the unpredictable ebb and flow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am just so overjoyed to be back performing in person,” said Bell, who resides in Winnipeg and recently wrapped up a short pre-Christmas tour. 

“It is a wonderful time to be in front of people because despite of how commercialized Christmas has become, and of how far away it has drifted from its origins, there is still a turn towards thought and introspection at this time of year, especially Advent. I can just feel it in the audience. They really want you to move them into a contemplative space, and I am happy to do so.”

The 30-plus-year performing veteran’s schedule has been chockful of concerts the past few weeks in the prairie provinces. He entertained at Manitoba Christian churches in Gimli, Winkler, Steinbach and Winnipeg in late November. Bell appeared in Alberta at Calgary’s St. Michael Catholic Community and Edmonton’s Corpus Christi Parish on Dec. 2 and 4 respectively. He wrapped up his pre-Christmas shows in Saskatchewan with appearances at Holy Child Parish in Regina on Dec. 9, Gravelbourg Church of Christ on Dec. 10 and Ebenezer Baptist Church in Saskatoon on Dec. 11. 

In 2020, Bell released the 12-track album Wouldn’t You Love to Know. The release date was Nov. 1, which was right in the thick of the first fall lockdown. Now, over two years later, he finally gets to see how a live audience responds to his newest material.

“Because We Hunkered Down” is the song connecting with people on a deep level, said Bell. It is a musical adaption of a poem written by Bell’s friend Malcolm Guite in his 2016 published collection Parable and Paradox: Sonnets on the sayings of Jesus and other poems. Bell said the poem predates the pandemic by nearly four years, but the lyrical content suggests it easily could have been conceived during the periods of social isolation in 2020 and 2021. 

“It talks about we can emerge, even if we are tarnished and beat up, because we didn’t let go as a community. We shunned the impulse to alienate each other,” he said.

“Coming back to the concerts, I’m looking out at these audiences. Some in the crowd are left politically, some are right politically. Some supported the (Freedom) Convoy and others are anti-convoy. And some are pro-vaccine and others are anti-vaccine. All groups have been online, chirping each other and making people angry. There is something lovely about all getting back in the same room to laugh and sing. It is a counter narrative to the division. Our deepest truth is the unity we enjoy because of the Spirit of God.”

In late October, Bell debuted the music video for another recording featured on Wouldn’t You Love to Know called “In Praise of Decay.” He said the song is a musical reply to humanity’s “callousness towards God’s created beauty and order.” He said this song calls for us to heed the wisdom of John the Baptist: “repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Back in February, Bell released his song “The Divine Image” as a video single. This song, imbued with themes of love, mercy, peace and connecting with God, is a melodic translation of English poet William Blake’s 1789 poem of the same name. 

It has been possible for Bell to routinely churn out content during the pandemic because he and his team enhanced their in-house production skills and built a fully-fledged video studio.

“The question is now, what could we do with that, and how do we steward that,” said Bell. “I think 2023 will see us sit back and take a look at these assets we developed to consider the best use for them to promote the Kingdom of God.”

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