A Canadian musician is grateful to walk in the footsteps of his heroes with his latest accomplishment, being awarded his home province's highest award.
"It kind of came out of nowhere, it was nothing I was expecting," Bell says about finding out he will be receiving the Order of Manitoba. "I just got a sudden phone call from the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba saying 'We'd like to offer this to you,'" says Bell.
He says that when he found out, he went online to see just what this meant for him.
"I found out previous recipients are heroes of mine. Folks like Fred Penner, Heather Bishop, Al Simmons, Ray St. Germain, and Joy Smith. It's lovely to be considered in that company."
Bell sees the fellow musicians within the Order as those who love to entertain while also creating music to impact society in a positive way.
"I've been involved in a number of justice causes, like Freedom Road," he says.
Shoal Lake is an Indigenous community 70 miles outside of Winnipeg. Roughly 100 years ago the people were displaced and marooned on an island so Winnipeg could use the land to bring water into the city.
"They had been fighting for 100 years to have a road and a bridge built. About six or seven years ago, that fight came to a head. Several churches in Winnipeg got involved, and I got involved. Sort of moving public opinion so governments would do what they should have done in the first place. It finally happened and Freedom Road was built."
Bell is glad that his public influence has had a hand in helping others in the community. He's also worked with Youth for Christ.
"If you do public work like I do, you build up social capital. It's like money in the bank that you can spend or not. I've often prayed about that and asked God when it's time to spend, you let me know. When you do have the publics' attention, you can build up a reputation and at certain points, it might be good to have one if there's a cause that's important."
On top of his philanthropy, Bell hopes his music will be remembered.
"Hopefully I can leave behind a batch of songs that can continue to serve people long after I'm gone. That would be a lovely legacy."
Bell has been doing half-hour concert videos called The Loft Sessions, and he has a new one coming out on May 14.