Canadian-born Christian folk artist Steve Bell got his start in a family gospel band that toured behind his father, a Baptist minister who served as a prison chaplain in federal penitentiaries. Bell learned to play the guitar from inmates. After high school, he toured clubs in a series of little-known bands before joining the acclaimed Elias, Schritt & Bell. Life on the road eventually triggered a crisis of faith, however, and in 1988 he temporarily retired from performing to become a stay-at-home father.
The move afforded him the opportunity to concentrate on his songwriting with a new determination, and at the urging of his mentor, Father Bob MacDougall, Bell recorded his first CCM release, Comfort My People. It was released on Signpost, a label he co-founded with friend and producer Dave Zeglinski. The album's success encouraged him to return to music full-time, and subsequent efforts including Deep Calls to Deep, Burning Ember, and The Feast of Seasons further established Bell's growing fan base.
His first release on the Peg Music label, Romantics & Mystics, earned a Best Gospel Album Juno Award in 1997. He followed it two years later with Beyond a Shadow via Rhythm House Records, which also released Steve Bell Band in Concert the same year. Back on Signpost, he issued 2000's Simple Songs, which won him his second Juno, this time for Best Album. The follow-up, Waiting for Aiden, was nominated for Best Gospel Album.
In 2003, he made Sons & Daughters with his daughter, Sarah Bell, and in 2005, at the suggestion of a friend who was dying from cancer, he put together the compilation Solace for Seasons of Suffering. It was packaged with a disc of interviews and book reviews on the topics of hardship and loss. The covers album My Dinner with Bruce: Songs of Bruce Cockburn followed in 2006, as did Story and Song, Vol. 1. Bell collaborated with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on 2007's Symphony Sessions, which also featured the singer/songwriter on guitar and mandolin and bandmates on bass, piano, and drums. He finished out the decade with 2008's Devotion, which was nominated for a Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year Juno in 2010.
Bell returned in 2011 with his 16th album, Kindness. The Christmas LP Keening for the Dawn followed in time for the 2012 holiday season, and in the fall of 2014 he celebrated 25 years of releases with Pilgrimage, a four-disc collection. His next album, 2015's I Will Not Be Shaken, was a companion piece to I Will Not Be Shaken: A Songwriter's Journey Through the Psalms, a book by Bell and Jamie Howison. The analog-recorded Where the Good Way Lies arrived in 2016. It earned him another Juno nomination for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year. ~ Jason Ankeny & Marcy Donelson