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Covenant Awards Head West
Calgary is playing host to the first-ever Canadian Gospel Music Week.

Calgary, AB - Converging on the city from October 25-27, 2006, are many of the country's premiere Christian artists including Brian Doerksen, Starfield, Downhere, Carolyn Arends, Ali Matthews and Connie Scott.

Carolyn Arends and Steve Bell (below) have both been nominated for five Covenant Awards, to be held in Calgary for the first time on October 27, 2006.

The focal point is the 28th Annual Covenant Awards at the 2400-seat Centre Street Church on Friday, October 27. It represents the first time the Gospel Music Association Canada will be staging its award show outside of Ontario.

With a record 133 artists submitting for awards, GMA Canada President Gary Dix said the time was ripe to begin moving the show around the country.

"We all agreed that it would be the perfect location," Dix said of Calgary.

Pivotal to this, Dix explained, was the opportunity to piggyback the event with the two-day Canada Christian Music Conference. Organized by Calgary producer and promoter, Leroy Harder, the extensive array of workshops are being led by an impressive line-up of Canadian artists and industry professionals along with veteran Nashville record company executive and songwriter, John Mays.

The festivities begin with Doerksen leading a worship night on Wednesday at Centre Street Church, followed by artist showcases throughout the city on Thursday evening.

Dix and Harder are excited about the prospect of offering artists traveling here more than just an awards show, but intensive training, networking and showcasing opportunities. Several performers are expected to stay over the weekend and minister to local congregations.

"Momentum is definitely building," Harder said. "We are seeing both the major artists, as well as those just starting out, signing up and committing to be in Calgary."

The list of 2006 Covenant Award nominees was unveiled at Blessings Christian Marketplace stores in Calgary and Hamilton on September 12.

Emerging with by far the largest number of nominations was Ontario's Ali Matthews with 11. The singer/songwriter is vying for a plethora of honors including the overall Album of the Year award for Windowof Light and Song of the Year for You Knew My Name.

In second place, with six nominations each are BC's Chris Janz and the Nashville-based band, Downhere, that originated on the campus of Briercrest Bible College in Saskatchewan. Janz is up for Male Vocalist of the Year and New Artist of the Year, while Downhere has made the short list for Group of the Year and Artist of the Year.

Steve Bell

Coming in with five nominations each were Manitoba's Starfield and Steve Bell, BC's Carolyn Arends, Ontario rapper N.I.F.T.Y. and The Silent from New Brunswick. Close behind with four nominations were Albertan Craig Learmont with Three Hills-based Paramedic as well as BC artists Brian Doerksen and Ron Ennig.

From the local area, country gospel artist Grace Jacobsen of High River became teary-eyed after learning she received three nominations.

"That was an awesome shock," Jacobsen said.

Gospel Road radio host Larry Heather led those gathered at the nomination announcement in prayer for Jacobsen who is facing a recurrence of cancer.

Moved by the camaraderie among the artists in the room, Jacobsen said, "It's beautiful how we can share the love of the Lord with each other through our music."

Calgary's Holy Trinity Anglican Church garnered two nominations from their Christmas Presence album. Receiving a single nomination each were Calgary-area artists Andrew Bartley, Ann Duval, Claudia Domingo, Jerry Proppe, Elnora Pittman, Lost and Found and The Joyriders. Executive producer Peter Fleck's multi-artist Good News Celebration CD also generated a nomination.

More information is available at

Originally published in City Light News, October 2006.




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