On the day in 1996 when Winnipeg songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk shot the video for her breakout single, God Made Me, a music industry friend gave her tickets for that night’s Pearl Jam concert, one of the last shows at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.
Sitting right behind her was Raine Maida, lead singer of alt-rock heavyweights Our Lady Peace.
The friendship that started that night soon became romance, then marriage, musical collaboration, and now a family with three young sons. In time, they would also devote their shared energy and fame to humanitarian causes — especially War Child, a charity that helps children in conflict zones — for which they have now been recognized with a joint appointment to the Order of Canada.
“I feel like together we’re better,” said Ms. Kreviazuk in an interview from their home in California.
She said that applies both to their music and to their charity work, including a recent trip to Iraq together.
“I was absolutely in shock,” Mr. Maida said of his reaction to hearing about the award. “I kind of feel we’re not distinguished enough or maybe we’re too young. Maybe it’s the Canadian in us, the humility factor, but it just seems a little surreal.”
He prefers to see it as a “gentle reminder” to do better, although both have already done about as well as it is possible to do in Canadian music and charity.
Our Lady Peace, which Mr. Maida founded in 1992, has won four Junos and a record ten Much Music Video Awards, and Mr. Maida has followed that with a solo career as a songwriter, performer and producer.
Ms. Kreviazuk, who has two Junos, recently appeared on Saturday Night Live along with Kendrick Lamar and Jay Rock to perform Pay For It, a song she co-wrote. She also has a new single out, I Will Be, which marks her return to performing her own music after a productive few years of songwriting for other top American artists.
They are unique among this year’s new members not just because they have been appointed together, but also for the diversity of the cited reasons.
Mr. Maida, however, said music and humanitarian work have always gone hand in hand in their lives.
“Music for me, early on, really always had that dual purpose,” he said, citing early influences like Peter Gabriel and R.E.M. for whom social justice was a key part of their public image and work. “It’s always been this intrinsic part of art, and especially music for me, to have that consciousness to go hand in hand with it. For whatever reason, who knows? Maybe it’s lucky that I walked into a Gabriel concert and not a Def Leppard concert, I’m not sure. But I always made a distinction between art and entertainment, and I always was more attracted to the art side.”
Now that he is in the esteemed Canadian musical company of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Oscar Peterson, who have served music on a worldwide scale but still “brought it back to Canada,” Mr. Maida said he views their ability to give as a luxury that demands to be honoured.
Ms. Kreviazuk, who was raised musically by her older cousins and brothers, said she was reminded of this while playing with Neil Young recently. She was impressed at how he “played to his heart.… I think I have to owe this award that Raine and I are receiving to that value system that you play to your truth,” she said, whether it be broken love or social justice.
She stressed their joint focus on service and citizenship, both in their professional lives and as parents, and said they are never healthier as a couple “than when we’re talking about an issue where we can see progress, or where we’re a part of something that seems to be growing or have hope, or where we feel compassion. That’s a great place to put your time.”