Matthews, winner of 14 Covenant Awards, including
the 2011 Album of the Year for Carry Me Home, has built
relatively modest, loyal followings in parts of Eastern and
Central Canada and Alberta. She plays diminutive venues
including many churches – not the kind of circuit Bieber
When Matthews talked to Faith Today recently, this
story was just a brief aside. But, in its own strange way, the
trajectory of the two artists illustrates the lifestyle of many
Canadian Christian musicians. Whether by necessity or
choice, their careers favour community over industry.
And that community is best exemplified by the annual
Covenant Awards (formerly the Gospel Music Association Awards), part of a week-long event hosted by GMA
Canada, now in its 34th year.
Though the Covenant Awards have flown under the
radar in comparison to the Junos, the Canadian Country
Music Awards and the like, there’s no arguing that winning
translates into more radio play, more interest from fans
and promoters, and all around greater public exposure.
Martin Smith has been involved with the awards for
11 years, and has been president of GMA Canada for the
past eight. When he talks about the Covenants, it’s in a
down-to-earth way, emphasizing the ultimate reason why
Canadian recording artists do what they do. In his view,
the awards themselves take a back seat to the environment that produces them.
“While the awards are nice, it’s more important to
meet, to mentor – and that’s why artists over the years
have continually told me they are involved,” says Smith.
“The conversations in the hallway are more important
than the walk across the stage.”
PHO TO: TERRY MANZO
New TV Partnership
However, that stage is also about to be raised a bit. For the
first time in their history, the Covenants will be televised
nationally on Nov. 10, thanks to a new partnership with
Crossroads Television (CTS-TV). The actual ceremony
will be taped Nov. 7 at studios in Burlington, Ont., after
many years in Alberta venues.
Producer (and former Starfield drummer) Gordie
Cochran says the potential audience is an unknown
quantity, but 50,000 viewers is a realistic expectation in
that time slot. “It really depends on the appetites of the
different markets in the country,” he says.