Print Edition: November 19, 2014
The Gospel Music Association (GMA) held their annual Covenant Award ceremony close to home in Langley on Thursday November 12. The Covenant Awards go to Canadian Christian musicians, producers, and songwriters who aspire to share their faith with the world through music.
The GMA artists reflect various genres — beyond just “gospel” — including pop, folk, praise and worship, jazz, blues, rap, and rock, with lyrics that consist of Christian content.
Artists paraded around in their leather bombers and their skin-fade haircuts — whether Christian or not, you can spot a musician a mile away from their attire. Some of the nominated artists who won awards were Abbotsford’s homegrown musicians.
The pop-rock brothers formerly known as Starfield were both there supporting their new musical identities. They have parted musical paths after 15 years of leading teens, youth, and young adults in churches all over North America. Jon Neufeld is now a solo artist and worship leader in Portland, and Tim Neufeld has adopted a new rockabilly / gospel style in his new band Tim Neufeld and the Glory Boys; however, their new sound is still laden with his old pop-rock roots.
Also, the Christian worship guru Brian Doerksen has taken a step back from writing church worship music and started a new band called the Shiyr Poets. Their goals as a band are to take the poems and songs of the biblical King David and transform them into contemporary Christian tunes.
Other new artists were represented at the Covenant Awards as they emerge into the small pond of Canadian Christian music. Many were husband-and-wife duos, including Love and the Outcome, who released their album in August 2013. Lead singer Jodi King leads from synth and a floor tom while she belts her chick-rock vocals, and is accompanied by her bass-playing and back-up vocalist husband. Aesthetically their attire and merchandise achieves a grunge / punk style, but their sound would be classified as pop-rock. They won three awards, including Seasonal Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Group of the Year.
Amanda Cook, with her powerhouse vocals that could lead an army, is Canadian-born but is currently a worship leader at Bethel Church in Redding, California. She won Best Female Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, and Praise and Worship Song of the Year for her song “You Make Me Brave.”
Dan Bremnis won Male Vocalist of the Year, Artist of the Year, and Recorded Song of the Year, as well as Pop Song of the Year for “Beautiful.”
There were many other talented musicians who did not receive awards; however, their talent and authenticity spoke louder than the wooden plaque that winners received. Mike Edle, a singer-songwriter from Alberta, and the City Harmonics — who played with extreme passion and tightness — were only two of the few artists who were not simply talented musicians, but maintained their humble attitudes as participants in this year’s Covenant Awards.