A local musician is receiving attention on the national scene. Gospel singer Maureen Haworth, who lives in Grand Forks with husband Rick, has been nominated for two Covenant awards, which honours the top Canadian Christian musicians, for top country album for It’s Time and top country song for Breathe in My Direction.
“I’m blessed that it’s getting some recognition,” said Maureen. “I’m really excited. It was a real surprise; I was thrilled.”
Maureen has been singing gospel music for several years now and is thrilled by the nomination. She began singing and playing bass in a country and oldies band called Phase 4 with her husband and several others.
After more than 30 years, Phase 4 folded and Maureen and her husband began to sing smooth jazz. The pair then put out a gospel album in 2013. Rick then stepped into the background as Maureen emerged as a solo gospel singer.
In 2014, Maureen put out her first solo gospel album this year called It’s Time, which has been nominated for gospel country album of the year. Her song Breathe in My Direction from the album was nominated for gospel country song of the year.
“Smooth jazz had been a genre we both really, really enjoyed,” said Maureen. “He (Rick) was a great guitar player and he was really getting those beautiful chords. We got into that and then we met up with our producer (Ron Mahonin) by accident. He came over to the house and heard some of the songs Rick had written. He (Mahonin) came out of retirement to record a light contemporary Christian album for us, which came out in 2013.”
Shortly after, Maureen wrote her first gospel song called I’m Singing Jesus, which did very well overseas.
“I just got that feeling that I was doing the right thing,” she said. “I went on to write more (gospel songs), as did my husband. We ended up with an album we put out together called We’re Gonna Raise the Roof.”
Maureen said the more she wrote and sang, the more confident she felt that gospel music was the path she was meant to take.
“It just getting more and more exciting and doors kept opening for me,” she said. “We kept meeting these amazing musicians that were on this album.”
Maureen gives a lot of credit for her success to Mahonin as well as her husband, who wrote four songs on the album and played guitar on it.
“I’ve been really blessed with the people who are so gifted and talented,” she said.
Maureen wrote seven of the other songs, while one is a cover song. She said the album is very upbeat country gospel with a southern flair to it.
“It’s a nice mix of upbeat and thoughtful songs,” she said.
Maureen said that religion has always been an important part of her life and now she has an even greater outlet to show her love for God. She grew up in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and belonged to the First Baptist Church.
“I have a very solid Christian background,” she said. “I never waivered in my love for the lord but I certainly wasn’t out there. I felt in my own heart I was a Christian and doing all this but I realized I wasn’t. I was pretty complacent.”
Maureen said that writing and singing gospel music has definitely brought her closer to the lord.
“This has brought me back,” she said. “It smacked me in the head: this felt right. Doors kept opening for me and continue to. I just go this is obviously the plan you have for me because it feels right. It just feels so good, so right when I’m up there singing about it.”
Maureen enjoys travelling and performing at churches, concerts and festivals and sharing her love of Jesus and love of music.
Maureen is excited about heading up to Edmonton for the Coventry Awards, which take place on Nov. 5 at Christ Church.
“I’m so thankful to all my friends and family for their support and encouragement,” she said. “My prayer when I started was that people would be moved and feel blessed listening to my songs. That’s what feels so good about what I do.”
Local gospel fans can pick up Maureen’s CDs at Pharmasave in Grand Forks as well online at her website (maureenhaworth.com) and at online sites such as iTunes and Amazon.