How encouragement can change your life

These musicians all have a story to share about someone who encouraged them to develop their musical gifts. And it’s a good thing they do. A word of encouragement isn’t everything, but it does make a difference. In this case, it contributed to the development of seven Christian recording artists in Canada.

Encouragement changed their life

JenniferJennifer Jade Kerr

“Back in university when I was just starting to share my music with others, I played a few songs at a coffee-house arranged by the chaplain at my college. After I finished playing, this guy who lived in my dorm came over and sat down beside me. He leaned towards me and said, ‘If anyone could convince me about this whole God thing, it would be you.’ I remember feeling a bit stunned as he walked away. I didn’t realize I had the power to influence people; I was just singing the music inside me and living my life. That memory often keeps me going, helping me trust that God is in control.”

JJK grew up in Saskatchewan and now lives in Kelowna, B.C. Her album “Permission to be Broken” was nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award in 2013.


Dan BremnesDan Bremnes

“When I was around 18, I was travelling with a missions group called YWAM (Youth With A Mission). My leader Greg would always encourage me to lead worship or sing for our group. At first I wondered why…. I always wanted to sing but figured that God had other plans for my life. But through Greg’s constant encouragement I found a voice in what I was doing and a foundation to build upon in the years to come.”

Dan lives in Salmon Arm, B.C. In 2013 he was recognized as the Male Vocalist of the Year by the Canadian Gospel Music Association. He recently performed in New Zealand.


MarikaMarika Siewert

“One person who encouraged me to develop my musical gifts was Robert Bardston; he was my double bass teacher and also a world-renowned cellist. At the time, he was the only black man I knew of living in Medicine Hat, A.B., where I grew up. He had African roots, and when he sang, his voice took over the room. Everyone else I knew was Caucasian, and I knew that even if I tried, I couldn’t sing like them. In a city where I was very different, he showed me that it was OK I wanted to sing like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Robert always believed in me. He showed me that it’s not always easy, but that when we push through we find success. He taught me that no matter what you’re playing or singing, music is a gift for all people and truly a universal language.”

Marika runs Emerton Records with her husband in Vancouver, B.C. Her album “Unstoppable” won Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year at the Canadian Gospel Music Awards in 2013.


AmyAmy Dagenais

“I remember many songwriting sessions staring at a blank piece of paper. I wrote parts of songs here and there and scribbled ideas on the back of hardware store receipts. I wrote a lot, but seldom was anything finished. My grandmother, who is now with the Lord, always asked how my songs were coming along. There are several people who encouraged me in my gifts and talents pertaining to music, but there was always something profound about the way she told me she was praying for me to finish my songs. It reminds me that God is never too busy or too big to hear even the simplest of prayer requests. I did finish my songs including ‘Blue Jay’ which is a song about my beloved grandmother.”

Amy grew up in Perth, O.N., and now lives in Ottawa. Her debut EP entitled “No Ladders” was produced by Sebastian Demrey and released in October 2013.   


Colin BernardColin Bernard

“After two album releases, both of which failed royally, my brother and I decided to take a step back and reconsider our so-called mission. A decade later, it became clear that God was providing another opportunity for us to try again. We had continued to write during that quiet period and melodies filled my head. As my brother Joel and I decided to go forward with this new project, we were reminded that, if our hearts were clean, even what the world perceives as another failure would be a victory in God’s book. Only by the grace of God can we walk daily in this success.”

Originally from Bathhurst, N.B., Colin now lives in Ottawa. His EP “Hold On” was produced by Ed Cash and nominated for a Juno Award in 2013. 


Stephanie 11-45-22Stephanie Israelson

“My dad was the rock in my life and the person who pushed me towards my music ministry more than anyone. As a little girl, my dad bribed my sister and I with a Happy Meal to get us to sing on stage. My dad was an evangelist and we travelled full time; his passion for God, ministry, and hope for renewed faith in Canada has affected me to become the person I am today. Even now, when I write new music or make new recordings, I can’t wait to hear what my dad’s response will be. He has always encouraged me to reach for the highest goal and fulfill God’s purposes for my life.”

Stephanie lives in Lansdowne, N.B. Her songs have been listed in the Top 10 Cancon charts. She recently finished recording her third album entitled “The Prayer.”


ChelseaChelsea Amber

“One person who encouraged me to pursue music was my junior high youth leader. Chad Lucas gave me opportunities as a teenager to sing and eventually play guitar as part of the church worship team. The first time I ever led worship with a band was at a youth retreat he was running. I’m sure we all sounded pretty awful! I cried at the end of the set because I accidentally turned the volume off on my guitar when I bent down to pick up the guitar pick I had dropped midway through the song. Despite the rough start, Chad saw potential in that little junior high girl and pushed me passed my comfort zone.”

Chelsea is based in Halifax, N.S. In 2013 she was nominated for the Female Vocalist of the Year award by the Canadian Gospel Music Association. She is working on her third album.

 Flick photo (cc) by docpop