There was a blessed irony to the remaining finalists of American Idol singing about the incomparable nature of a promise-keeping God. In the mainstream mediaworld, where the deities of fame and fortune are normally centre stage, how surprising to hear a Christian worship anthem close the 2008 ‘Idol Gives Back’ charity campaign broadcast before 17 million viewers! The song was ‘Shout To The Lord’ and the writer, <em>Darlene Zschech.</em>
Singer, song-writer, worship leader, pastor, author and speaker are the customary titles afforded to Darlene, who must, by now, be a national treasure in her Australian homeland. By the age of 10 she was part of a kids’ show called ‘Merry Go Round’ and as a young adult, sang on jingles for a number of well-known international companies. Since then, she’s sung on countless albums as a featured worship leader with Hillsong Church, Sydney.
In our modern-day worship-song culture – so prominent in churches and Christian conferences across the globe – hymns and sacred songs can come and go like the proverbial wind and accusations of thin theology, trite-ism and mediocre melodies abound! But a mere glance at the tracklist for ‘Extravagant Worship’ reveals Darlene to be a writer and co-writer with exceptional lyrical depth and melodic ability, managing to uphold those values with everyone she works with from Hillsong to Martin and Anna Smith’s ‘Compassion Art’ charity project.
As well as ‘Shout To The Lord’, considered to be one of the best worship songs ever written, there is the assertive, faith-building ‘All Things Are Possible’ and the joyous, gospel-etched ‘I Know It’. Her most recent album credits her on seven of the twelve songs, and with a published song catalogue well over half the size of Psalms, how does this award-winning songwriter stay creatively fresh?
“Just keep writing. Write your prayers … write what your heart feels … write what you feel the Spirit is saying and then be free with your songs. Show them to others, ask for input and check the theology of your songs with someone who knows,” says Zschech.
“I’ve become braver as I’ve gotten older. I know I have to write a lot of average songs to come up with a really strong one … and that’s part of the journey. Write for the love of writing. Generations ago, the Church was the hub of everything creative in the community, and we are a long way from that now. BUT the Church is on the rise; there is a new sound coming and it is flowing in the film industry and beyond.”
4 Solo albums
‘Kiss of Heaven’, ‘Change Your World’, ‘Simply Darlene’ and ‘You Are Love’.
‘Revealing Jesus’, is a spectacular live album recorded in Birmingham, Alabama during September 2012. Produced by Israel Houghton, it features fellow CCM luminaries Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe and the effervescent Houghton himself.