‘Tis the season, once again, where it is important for me to reach out to those who value my work, and remind you that I am reliant on the financial support of folks like yourself in order to keep doing what I do.
Many of you are now making decisions about where to put your year-end donations and I hope you’ll keep me in mind as you do.
Last year was a bit of a milestone for me, as it saw the release of my seven-volume book series, Pilgrim Year. Rather surprisingly, Pilgrim Year is well on its way to becoming a Canadian national best-seller. Having received enthusiastic reviews, it also won second place for Book Series of the Year from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada. The awards were announced last spring in St. Petersburg, Florida.
In addition to my regular spate of concerts and conferences, 2019 gave me the opportunity to offer my For the Journey Retreat to many communities across the continent. I also co-taught a course called Five Traditions of Prayer at Regent College with Dr. Bruce Hindmarsh. And I was privileged to perform two symphony concerts, one with the Winnipeg Symphony and the other in California with the Fresno Philharmonic. I so wish you all could take in one of these concerts… there’s a certain experience of transcendent sublimity that only a symphony can provide.
This year also saw the death of my father, who took his last breath on July 31st. For those of you who have experienced this kind of loss, you’ll understand how wrenching it is. There are no words really, except to say that my father was a loving and wise man, and the ongoing pain of his loss is due to that goodness.
I’ve since written a song for my father called “In Memoriam,” which I’ve posted online as part of a three-song Christmas gift to supporters (see URL below).
The coming year promises to be fruitful as well. I’ll begin recording my next album in February, with the intention to release it in the fall. This will be my 22nd project, and I am as enthusiastic as I’ve ever been about the new material.
Another highlight is that I’ve been asked to return to Regent College in Vancouver to teach a summer course called Seasons of Renewal with my friend, the English poet Malcolm Guite. Malcolm is amazing. You may want to look into this course, which runs from July 20-24th.
Aaaand… I’m thrilled to be returning to England at the end of July to sing at the 2020 CS Lewis Summer Institute in Oxford and Cambridge. This is the event where I first met Malcolm Guite several years ago, who will also be contributing.
If all goes well, my new CD will be out in September and I’ll be touring the new material hard throughout next fall and winter.
As mentioned, I’ve posted preview demos of three new songs for you to listen to online. You can listen to them at www.stevebell.com/merrychristmas. These will certainly be on the new album (Wouldn’t You Love To Know) to be released in the fall.
Once again, please consider me in your year-end giving. Changes in the music industry (particularly the rise of music streaming) have ended major revenue sources for artists like myself, and the costs of this work far exceed what can be recouped by concert revenues alone. Unless communities support their artists, we simply can’t continue.
If you are an occasional giver, perhaps you can commit to monthly giving. If you are a monthly donor, perhaps you can increase your monthly support. Additional one-time year-end gifts are most welcome and extremely helpful. All donations are, of course, tax receiptable.
These days are fraught with anxiety and despair over so many social and environmental issues. I pray you will have time to savour the good in the next weeks… and to let the experience fortify you for the days to come.
In closing, below is a Christmas song I recorded that was written by my friend Alana Levandoski for whom I harbour great fondness and respect: