Steve Bell is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer from Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1989, after years of having worked with other artists, he experienced a spiritual awakening that lead to the creation of his own label?Signpost Music?for which he went on to create fifteen solo albums. He’s now marking the 25th anniversary of Signpost with a multi-disk recording project, Pilgrimage, and a tour of Canada. A feature-length documentary is now being made about his life and career. He’s won many awards, including two Junos. Recently he took the time to answer Wanda Waterman’s questions his projects, the state of the world, and what inspires him.
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
– Aldous Huxley
Do you have any thoughts on the state of the world?
The first thought that comes, when I think about “the world” is that when God first saw it complete he was very, very pleased. I suppose what we’ve done with it since is what we’d call the “state of the world.” And when I think about that, I am encouraged that Christ has come to redeem it.
I’ve travelled a lot and witnessed many sorrowful things. Human and environmental loss in our day is staggering. Sometimes I’m afraid; sometimes I think God lets me share a bit in divine grief. But, ultimately, I have confidence in the sovereignty of God.
Julian of Norwich famously wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” It is from this place of trust that I think we have the most to offer.
Are there any books, films, or albums that have deeply influenced your development as an artist?
The movie that most profoundly affected me is Brother Sun, Sister Moon, the story of St. Francis.
I’d be a very different songwriter and musician today had I not discovered Bruce Cockburn’s Circles in the Stream album when I was 16.
I do read a lot. Two books in particular have had deep impact: Walter Brueggemann?s Prophetic Imagination and Frederick Buechner’s Godric loom large. As well as, more recently, Malcolm Guite’s Faith, Hope and Poetry.
If you had an artistic mission statement, what would it be?
“To encourage Christian faith and thoughtful living through artful word and song.”
Tell us about your current projects.
1. I’ve just released a four-disc set of music called Pilgrimage. It includes a disc of all new material, a disc of unplugged fan-picks, a tribute disc of my songs covered by friends and colleagues, and a disc of remixed audio tracks (sans vocals) of our favourite tracks from over the years. It all comes packaged with a significant essay on my work, written by Regent College’s John Stackhouse, Jr.
2. Also, I’m working on a series of e-books (on the Snippet platform) on the spiritual tradition of the Church calendar year. The series is titled Pilgrim Year and offers collections of reflections on Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide.
3. Refuge 31 has just released a feature-length documentary on my life and work called Burning Ember: The Steve Bell Journey. This is their project, not mine, but I do appreciate how they’ve told the story and think It’s quite meaningful, so I’m promoting it as much as I can.
What’s next for you?
Actually, I just wrote a new song the other day. So I guess that means I’m beginning work on a new album.
I suspect I’ll do more and more writing as the years progress. I think I have a few books in me.
Wanda also penned the poems for the artist book They Tell My Tale to Children Now to Help Them to be Good, a collection of meditations on fairy tales, illustrated by artist Susan Malmstrom.