Swift Current's Keith Kitchen won the Canadian Gospel Music Association's Covenant Award in the Folk/Roots Song Of The Year category for his song Our Cozy Apartment.
Third time was the charm for Swift Current's Keith Kitchen after he earned a prestigious Covenant Award at the 35th Annual Covenant Awards held Wednesday in Burlington, Ontario.
Kitchen won the Canadian Gospel Music Association's Covenant Award in the Folk/Roots Song Of The Year category for his song Our Cozy Apartment off of his third album Restless. He had also been nominated in the Folk/Roots Album of the Year for his 11-track album Restless which was released last November. It marked the third time he had received multiple Covenant nominations for his work.
He released his debut recording Broomtree in 2007 which earned a trio of Covenant Award nominations (Folk/Roots Album of the Year, Folk/Roots Album of the Year and New Artist of the Year).
Kitchen's sophomore release Rumours of Light was issued in Sept. 2010 which also earned three Covenant Award nominations.
Kitchen admitted the win was a sweet accomplishment having come five years into his recording career.
"It's like cotton candy. It's a really sweet, kind of a once and a while treat to get it. It's a nod of approval from the industry and some of my peers to say keep up the good work."
Ironically, he was quite sure his first two nominations would have turned into award winners, and was disappointed when they didn't win, leaving him feeling that winning a Covenant Award was not in the cards.
"This time I wasn't even going to submit. I had kind of resigned myself that it didn't really matter. I was just going to do the work and the awards didn't really matter. And it was actually my wife who kind of twisted my arm into submitting. So it was a real surprise to win because it seemed like when I was trying for it, it didn't happen. It's funny how that seems to work."
As an artist, Kitchen says his music has changed over the release of the three albums.
"I think stylistically it has become a little bit more folky, but also just the way that I've approached the songs," he admitted.
"I'm often referred to as a Christian artist, and I think for the most part that label sticks. I happen to be a Christian and I happen to be an artist. I've kind of been distancing myself from that label a little bit just in that most Christian music is people singing about their faith. And so if you share that faith perspective the music is relatable and you understand what the artist is talking about. But if you don't share that faith perspective, there's something kind of almost alienating about the music. It's not accessible."
"I guess as I've kind of grown and and time's gone on, rather than write about my faith I've been using my faith as a lens through which to write about things that we all experience - relationships and beauty and kind of those moments of transcendence…so that's kind of been how its evolved for me."
"It actually surprised me when I won the award because so many of the artists that tend to win are those that approach their work in sort of more of a traditional sense."
His first two releases were projects he initiated, but for the release of Restless he was approached by a producer who had heard his previous work. He was offered studio time and Kitchen raised his half of the funding for the project through crowd funding.
"It was the first time in my career when I've actually had to put a record together, there was a time frame and kind of a deadline. When they approached me I didn't have anything written so it was a different way to approach a record certainly."
"They just keep finding me," he said of the process he follows when writing songs. "Every time I do an album I always think it's the last one. Because usually at that point I've sort of cleaned off the shelves."
"So I never sort of approach it with an expectation that any thing is going to come. So every time that it does come it's a bit of a relief, and a surprise and a gift all wrapped into one."
Kitchen now finds himself touring extensively as a performer.
"I'm kind of constantly on tour. They're not usually long trips, but I try to tour every second weekend. As a husband and as a dad we've found that that's kind of the rhythm that works for us."
While performing he admits he receives his biggest reward as an artist, reaction from a live audience. He recalls playing the song Our Cozy Apartment for the first time, and seeing a wife put her head on her husband's shoulder as she was crying reminiscing about her own first apartment.
"That's the reward for what I do. The work itself is reward enough."
Kitchen has a series of shows booked over the coming months, but he does have a chance to perform in Swift Current before the end of the month.
On Nov. 27, Kitchen will be performing at East Side Church of God during his Art and Illusion Tour. During the evening, offered in a coffee house environment, Kitchen teams up with illusionist Derek Selinger, and a barista from Carlyle to offer an evening with entertainment and sharing their faith.
"We sort of have a conversation about integrating your faith and your work. Whether you're a musician or whether you make coffee, or fix air conditioners, or whatever you do."