Steve Bell, Begonia among seven local Juno nominees


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Winnipeg singer-songwriter Steve Bell made a trade last year that would make any NHL general manager green with envy.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/03/2021 (741 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg singer-songwriter Steve Bell made a trade last year that would make any NHL general manager green with envy.

Last April, the two-time Juno Award winner announced on social media he would auction one of his Junos to raise money to record a new album.

The sale was made and Tuesday morning, Bell’s album, Wouldn’t You Love to Know? earned a Juno nomination for Contemporary Christian Album of the Year.

So he traded one Juno for a shot at another.

“That has some poetic beauty to it, doesn’t it?” Bell said Tuesday before telling the auction story that goes back to 1998, when his record Romantics & Mystics won a Juno for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year.

“My first Juno, my dad wanted one, and when you win, you’re allowed to purchase some extras, if you want to give one to a benefactor, like one for the record company and one for your house.

“So I bought one for my dad and then he died so I got this extra Juno that I don’t want or need, so we auctioned that one off.”

The money went to recording Wouldn’t You Love to Know?, which features songs Bell wrote before the COVID-19 pandemic but which were recorded last summer in Winnipeg, produced by Murray Pulver.

“It’s not an album of songs that in themselves were dealing with the reality we’re in right now. They were all (written) before COVID could have been imagined,” Bell says. “But several look like they must have been written afterward.”

Bell is one of seven Manitoba artists/groups who received Juno nominations, which were announced Tuesday morning in a virtual presentation in Toronto, where the ceremony, the Junos’ 50th anniversary, will be held March 27.

Begonia, a.k.a. Winnipeg singer-songwriter Alexa Dirks, picked up a nomination for Adult Alternative Album of the Year for Fear, which she described as “very fun and unexpected,” in a post on Twitter Tuesday.

Fear, which came out late in 2019, spawned five consecutive sellouts at the West End Cultural Centre last Februrary; a new live record titled The Fear Tour was culled from those shows.

William Prince, whose smooth baritone and deep lyrics have found folk-music fans around the globe, earned a nomination for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year for Reliever, the first of two records the Peguis First Nation singer-songwriter released in 2020.

Burnstick, the husband-and-wife duo of Nadia and Jason Burnstick, were nominated for Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year. It’s the latest accolade for the couple,who earlier this year earned two nominations from the Canadian Folk Music Awards, which will be handed out April 10 and 11.

Winnipeg jazz singer and guitarist Jocelyn Gould was nominated for Jazz Album of the Year: Solo for her 2020 record, Elegant Traveler.

The Junos also honoured two of their perennial favourite artists with Manitoba connections.

Brandon-born violinist James Ehnes received two nods for Classical Album of the Year: Solo and Chamber for his two recordings in 2020. The first is for Bach & Brahms Reimagined, an album released in March 2020 with two other Canadians, pianist Jon Kimura Parker and trumpeter Jens Lindemann, and Beethoven: Violin Sonatas 4, 5 & 8, with pianist Andrew Armstrong, Ehnes’s longtime accompanist, which came out last November.

Ehnes has won 11 Junos; Tuesday’s nods give him a total of 30 Juno nominations during his career.

Rock legend Neil Young, perhaps the most famous former Winnipegger, earned his 31st Juno nomination, Rock Album of the Year, for Colorado, which he recorded with his longtime backing band Crazy Horse.


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Alan Small

Alan Small

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.


Updated on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 4:58 PM CST: Corrects number of nominees

Updated on Thursday, March 11, 2021 2:47 PM CST: Corrects spelling of February

Updated on Thursday, March 11, 2021 3:20 PM CST: Adds nomination of Jocelyn Gould and changes number of local nominees to seven

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