I was recently asked the question “What does GMA Canada, Music Week and Awards mean to you?” The two words that come to mind are “Community” and “Answers”. I still remember back to 2005 when I was just starting out as a new artist. My wife and I bought our plane tickets (even though we couldn’t really afford them) to the Awards held at the Canada Christian College in Toronto. Our desire was to invest in the ministry God was calling us to. I still remember that first year – I knew NO ONE and felt a little out of place as I attended the events that evening. I walked away with no awards….even back in 2005 Brian Doerksen and Starfield (Matt Maher was not making CDs back then) were still winning them all , but what I did walk away with was the start of community within the Canadian Christian Music industry and answers to my many questions.
Even though it was 7 years ago, and I have been to many GMA Canada Music Weeks and Covenant Awards since then, I can still tell you all the people I met that night. The reason I can tell you is that many of these people are the ones that I call friends today. Friends who I still call or e-mail when I have questions, need direction or encouragement when things don’t seem to be coming together on a new release or a tour.
I am often reminded that God did not design us to live in isolation, but to live in community. As I look back on my career and ministry over the last 7 years – attending the Covenant Awards that year was one of the best things I could have done as a new artist starting out because it was the start of joining community. Canada is such a large country, and the number of other Christian Artists in close proximity to me are very few. What I learned very quickly is that the Awards and GMA music week was a very key time each year where I could find encouragement, be challenged and motivated, and celebrate with like-minded folks who were on a similar journey. It is for this reason of community that throughout the last 7 years since I have made it a priority on my calendar to attend the Awards and more recently as it has been created – GMA Canada Music Week.
As my ministry has grown over the last 7 years I now receive calls or emails from new artists starting out asking me questions and ultimately trying to find out answers about what to do, how much to charge, or how to release a CD. Although I try to offer as much help as I can, one of the best places I have been able to find these answers through the years are during the sessions during GMA music week. It has been invaluable for me as an artist to take part in the journey of other people each year by listening to sessions during music week. In these sessions I have gleaned information from how to book events, to the life of an artist on the road, to producing a CD, to getting my songs played on radio, and even practical aspects in putting together a concert and releasing a CD well.
So if you are a Christian Artist in Canada and you not been feeling connected to what’s going on in Canada or if you have many more questions than answers…I ecourage you to attend GMA Canada Music Week and the Covenant Awards out in Cambridge this November. Will it cost you a gig that weekend…. yes! Will it cost you gas money or a plane ticket and hotel…. yes! But any business, ministry, or venture that you want to grow takes investment. So I encourage you to come out this year to help us find community together and come prepared with questions or answers which help everyone in their walk and their ministry.