melody to say what can’t be said. I was
becoming a little tired and cynical, I
think, but am enchanted once again.
FT: Tell me your thoughts about contemporary
Christian music in Canada.
SB: There’s really no effective Christian
music industry in Canada. We don’t have
vigorous, well-resourced record labels,
publishing houses or management companies. We have a handful of radio stations
and in the last few years our modest retail
industry has been decimated.
We’re mostly a group of moderately
successful independents trying to do
meaningful work while staying one step
ahead of the bank. Those who are tied to
industry are tied to U.S. industry.
This is one of my frustrations with the
Canadian Christian music awards organiz-
ations. They have made attempts to posture
after the Americans, even though we have
a completely different reality here. I’ve
been to award shows replete with smoke
machines, whirling lights, video graphics
and booming-voiced announcers. I sup-
pose it’s kind of fun, but I sit there and
think, “Is this anyone’s reality?”
I just wish we could be more Canadian
about it. I’m proud of us, even as I have a
lot of respect for much of what goes on
south of the 49th. I wish we could be
content with humbler gatherings more
focused on our craft.
FT: When I turn on Christian radio, I don’t often
hear Steve Bell. Why is that?
SB: It’s true that I get far more airplay from
CBC than I do Christian radio. I’m not
sour grapes about this. I understand that
I don’t go out of my way to produce
“radio-friendly” music as it is defined
primarily by the Nashville Christian
music industry, but it saddens me that we
in Canada still seem to have a cultural
inferiority complex. We already have an
America. We don’t need two. We have
something to contribute in our own
unique way that can be extremely valuable to other cultures. It seems to me that
a faith that understands God as triune – a
unity of difference – would be eager to
F T: Who do you listen to?
SB: Oddly, I don’t listen to a lot of music.
THE FT INTERVIEW