Covenant Awards

Brian Doerksen


Brian is a songwriter, recording artist and songwriting instructor (founder of ‘Unlocking Your Songs’), but most of all he loves spending time with his high-school sweetheart Joyce (they have been married for 38 years.)

Brian & Joyce have 4 adult daughters and 2 adult sons with Fragile X Syndrome. His songs are known and sung internationally in faith communities of all kinds including ‘Come Now is the Time to Worship’, ‘Refiner’s Fire’, ‘Hope Of The Nations’ and ‘The River.’

In the late 90’s he lived in the UK for over 2 years, where he mentored worship leaders and songwriters in the Vineyard Churches of UK and Ireland (Kathryn Scott & Brenton Brown among them) and produced ‘Hungry’ in 1999 which went on to be Vineyard’s best-selling recording. His first recording with Integrity in 2002 was called ‘You Shine’ and was recorded live in Dublin, Ireland.

In 2003, Brian was presented with the “International Award” by the Gospel Music Association in America.  In 2004, Brian filmed his first concert DVD TODAY in his hometown of Abbotsford. The TODAY CD went on to be his best-selling album in partnership with Integrity. In Oct 2007, Brian received six Covenant Awards (Canada’s Gospel Music Association Awards) including “Artist of the year”, “Album of the year” & “Song of the Year” for ‘Holy God’. In April 2008, Brian received a JUNO award (Canadian equivalent of the Grammy awards) for ‘Holy God’ (Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the year). His book; Make Love, Make War (Now Is The Time To Worship) published by David C Cook came out in the summer of 2009.

In 2010 he released ‘LEVEL GROUND’ as a live CD and concert film. This was Brian’s 2nd DVD and features the musicians off stage among the participants, while on the stage people share their story of transformation through grace. That year also marked the completion of a double album recording of a musical (an 8-year writing process!) with Christopher Greco (a playwright from Boston) based on Luke 15 called ‘Prodigal God; The musical tale of two sons and one wastefully extravagant father’. It’s the story of the prodigal son and his father seen through the eyes of the elder brother. The musical features 23 new songs written or co-written by Brian.

The years that followed (2011 & 2012) were dark and difficult years. Brian describes that period of his life as a prolonged winter of wordlessness after a devastating relational breakdown in the faith community he helped found. Then in 2013 Brian began co-writing new inspirational folk-rock settings of the ancient Psalms as part of a new band; The SHIYR Poets (pronounced ‘Sheer’.) Also in the band are Calum Rees, Brian Thiessen & Teresa Trask, long time members of Brian’s recording and touring band. Choosing not to censor the difficult verses of lament and anger, the SHIYR Poets render each psalm in its entirety, singing in solidarity with all who suffer. The result is beautifully honest and meditative music, at times unconventional in its form, yet deeply comforting because the words of these Psalms have been prayed and pondered for generations. Their first two recordings, Songs For The Journey Volume One & Two, won ‘Inspirational Album Of The Year’ in 2014 & 2016 at the Covenant Awards. In 2016 they released an EP of cover songs called ‘Recover’ including songs by Bob Dylan and Bruce Cockburn. In May of 2019 they released Songs For The Journey Volume 3; new settings of Psalms 21 – 30 including the epic ‘Abandoned (Psalm 22), ‘You Comfort Me’ (Psalm 23) and the catchy new setting of Psalm 24 called ‘Carry A Blessing.’

In 2016 and 2017 the original lyrics came back and Brian began songwriting in earnest again. GRATEFUL was released in February 2018. Produced by veteran producer Steve Rendall and Mark Troyer from Calgary, Alberta this album won ‘Inspirational Album of the Year’ at the 2019 GMA awards and was nominated for a 2019 JUNO award. Grateful contains 12 new original songs including ‘Scars On His Hands’ (Folk song of the Year 2019 GMA awards) ‘If Jesus Is The Face Of God’ (Gospel Song of the Year 2019 GMA Awards) ‘Micah Six Eight’ (Theme song for IJM’s ‘Freedom Sunday’), ‘Everlasting Arms’ and a cover of the beautiful Scottish hymn ‘We Cannot Measure How You Heal.’

In the summer of 2019, to mark 30 years of making music, Brian released ‘Faithful One’ a CD featuring 16 of his legacy songs featuring new arrangements of songs like ‘I Lift My Eyes Up’ & ‘Stay (Orphan’s Song).’

Finally, after years of waiting for the right time, in 2019 Brian released his first Christmas album, The Heart Of Christmas. The 15-song album contains 13 new original Christmas songs that tell the story of all stories; God with all of us in the mess and magic of our ordinary lives. Also included are new arrangements of traditional classics ‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear’ while the Pacific Mennonite Children’s choir joins in on ‘Stille Nacht’ (Silent Night) singing in Brian’s parent’s mother tongue of German, the birthplace of Christmas carols. Included with the original cuts, you’ll discover a Christmas Edition of the known and loved ‘Hope of The Nations’, and a song for those who struggle with missing loved ones called ‘Saddest Season.’ The lead song is the buoyant ‘Magical Lights’ featuring the smooth and soulful vocals of Marika Siewert. This project was nominated for a 2020 JUNO, his 3rd JUNO nomination. (The humorous picture of me in my ‘Vader Christmas sweater’ is for our special needs son Ben, who along with me loves all things Star Wars!)

In May of 2020 Brian released the first single ‘In The Middle’ (Your Peace) from his EP ‘Everlasting Arms’; Brian's response in song to the Covid-19 pandemic. The full EP released in September containing 5 songs of comfort that help us focus on peace and trust in these troubled times. Sale of this EP helped raise funds for Lifehaven Women's Support Society. Brian is spending the autumn of 2020 recording his first album of Hymns slated for release in early 2021. On the horizon, Brian is developing an online songwriting course to mentor, teach and encourage, as well as hoping to return to some touring and teaching in Canada, Europe and beyond when it’s safe and the right time to do so.

Awards and Nominations

43rd Covenant Awards and Conference

  • Nominated for the Musical Collaboration of the Year Award, for “Every Dream (God Who Sees)”
  • 42nd Covenant Awards

  • Recipient of the Seasonal Song of the Year Award, for “Just Before The Silent Night”
  • 40th Covenant Awards

  • Recipient of the Visual Designer of the Year Award
  • Recipient of the Folk Song of the Year Award, for “Scars On His Hands”
  • Recipient of the Gospel Song of the Year Award, for “If Jesus Is The Face of God”
  • Songs