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An understated superstar that casually moves about the musical radar, Darlene Zschech takes the accolades, the business, the recording and performing, every detail surrounding the music she writes and sings, in a steady stride.

An ordinary person made well-known by her faithful use of a God-given gift for music, Zschech is known worldwide as songwriter of contemporary worship for the Church and worship pastor at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia. But everyday life and personal passions hold her attention the most: her commitment to Christ, her family and her music, young women in crisis and the impoverished around the world, her home church and her work there.

There must be days when that’s not easy if she stops to considers that 25 to 30 million people around the world sing her songs every week in corporate worship or that the classic “Shout to the Lord” has now been recorded by over 50 artists, but Zschech responds genuinely to such responsibility, “I don’t take a minute of it for granted. I’m a very ordinary person, saved by grace and trying to serve God to the best of my ability, and I am very overwhelmed that I would be here today.”

With her second solo project for INO Records, Change Your World, Zschech takes time to explore the songs she writes on the side, “my little hobby,” as she calls it, her opportunity to write and record songs that reflect her life and growth. “With the first record Kiss of Heaven, I was rediscovering what kind of music I even enjoyed. I had laid down my likes for such a long time in my role of serving the church; I had to sort of silence that side of me for a long time. These new songs are just a continuation of that journey of discovery.”

Like Kiss of Heaven, the songs of Change Your World, produced by Zschech and David Holmes, lean more toward pop music than praise and worship. Zschech takes the time to write horizontal songs of encouragement and call to action to the body of Christ – songs like “Never Give Up” and “Miracle” that speak to society’s “get it quick” mentality, “when experience tells us that great things in life take time and hard work,” she notes.

Her passion for Jesus and His salvation colors everything about her life however, and her awareness of the Cross and the price paid for her freedom clearly influence Change Your World. From the opener “You Are Here,” through the expressive “Captured” and “Where Would I Be,” to the album’s closing track, Zschech’s new arrangement of Michael W. Smith’s “Agnus Dei,” Change Your World makes a journey upward to God and expresses her faith in eloquent and complete fashion.

At the same time, Change Your World conveys to the Church that it can change the world by lifting Jesus up to the nations, taking the role of being his hands and feet seriously, and encourages believers to do their part where they are planted to serve the Kingdom of God.

“I heard a friend preach recently, ‘The lowest level of Christianity is to be blessed – it’s what you do with it that makes it valuable.’ Every blessing is for a purpose, as we are blessed to be a blessing. There is a great responsibility attached to prosperity at any level…for the sake of the broken, the one’s with no voice…bring it on!!!” says Zschech.

A response to 15 years of work with Compassion International and the upcoming Hope Rwanda, a global church mission designed to bring hope to the people of Rwanda affected by the 1994 genocide, the title track “Change Your World” relates Zschech’s desire to impact the world from where she is. “This song says, ‘Though I’m many miles away, I’m right there with you. I’ll live to change your world. Your name is not forgotten…’ We have a great opportunity to impact a nation filled with hurt, poverty and brokenness…” she says.

“Getting older is a great gift because you start to work out what is truly valuable in life. That’s one of the reasons I don’t tour very much anymore, because I can’t bear to leave my kids. I’d rather make spaghetti for them, cheer them on at their own special events, and lead worship at my church. When I stand before God one day and have to be accountable for my life, I want to hear well done,” says Zschech.

No matter what her day or projects bring, it all comes back to worship. Knowing her priorities, Zschech’s heart still beats true for the church and she values the importance of writing timely songs for the church at large. “Think of the word ‘worship’ as ‘worth-ship’, because the only one who is worthy of our complete affections is Christ. Start there. Worship has always required choice and change. A choice to pursue and love God, and then change…as you cannot encounter Christ and remain the same. Everything for me is raised up at the throne, because the cry of my heart is to lead people to the reason they were born, for Christ and His purposes.

“When it comes to expressing my heart for God through music and song, I understand more about listening to what my heart wants to say and also to what the church is longing to say. This takes time, listening and meditating on the Word of God, being very present at church and not being too reflective. Offering what needs to be said and what people want to say is a great responsibility, an amazing journey, and one that I completely treasure.”

Early musical beginnings
Music has been an integral part of Darlene’s life since she was a child. Born and educated in Brisbane, Australia, she was 10 years old when she began performing in a weekly children’s television show, singing, dancing and hosting segments.

As a teenager, Darlene fronted various local gospel bands in Brisbane before she started singing on the session scene in Sydney. This included background vocals for some of the best in the business and recording jingles for McDonalds, Special K, KFC and Diet Coke. 

Music and ministry
Music was always going to characterise Darlene’s life but it was her decision to serve Jesus Christ at the age of 15 that has determined her path and destiny. For the past 20 years, Darlene and her husband Mark have been a vital part of the leadership team at Hillsong Church in Sydney, which has a congregation of over 18,000. 
Even in its early years, the church always valued contemporary praise and worship, and has gained a worldwide reputation for excellence with its singers and musicians.
As the church’s Worship Pastor, Darlene oversees a team of over 800 volunteers in the Worship & Creative Arts department. With multiple church services every weekend, Darlene also leads worship most weeks for the Hillsong Television program, which reaches over 180 different countries across the globe.
Darlene is also responsible for producing the music recorded by Hillsong Music Australia. The church began recording its music in the early 1990s, and so far, the 14live worship albums have all been certified Gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). In recent times, the Hillsong live worship albums have appeared on the Australian secular album charts. ‘For All You’ve Done’ debuted at number 1 on the ARIA charts in July 2004, and ‘God He Reigns’ debuted at number 2 in July 2005 with the DVD in the number 1 position.

Singer and Songwriter
As a songwriter, Darlene is perhaps most famous for the chorus Shout to the Lord, asong that is sung by an estimated 25 to 30 million churchgoers every week and has been covered by at least 20 other artists.This song is the title track for the first live album co-produced with Integrity Music featuring Darlene as a prominent female worship leader. Shout to the Lord was nominated as ‘Album of the Year’ for the 1997 Dove Awards and was nominated as ‘Song of the Year’ for the 1998 Dove Awards. In the year 2000, Darlene received a Dove Award nomination for Songwriter of the Year.

In addition to Shout to the Lord, Darlene has written over 70 songs that have been published by Hillsong Music Australia alone.She has also written three books on her passion, which include ‘Extravagant Worship’ and her latest release, ‘The Kiss of Heaven’.

In 2003, Darlene released her first solo studio project, Kiss of Heaven, with INO Records, an album that brings together a range of styles, including hymns, contemporary worship, and timeless songs reflecting her passion for Christ.For Darlene, its message and meaning are simple:“It’s just the love of my family, my adoration of my God, and my love of music. It’s me. It’s the things that are valuable to me.”

In 2005, Darlene released her new solo album “Change Your World” which features a new arrangement of Michael W Smith’s worship song ‘Agnus Dei’, as well as a “soon to be classic hymn”, ‘Call Upon His Name’.

 As well as co-writing most of the songs with David Holmes, Darlene produced ‘Change Your World’ at The Grove Studios owned by her and husband Mark.David Holmes and Andy Sorenson have co-produced the CD.

Leadership and influence
Darlene’s influence extends well beyond the realm of music. Together with her husband Mark, she is also the Associate Director of Hillsong Conference, which is the annual music and leadership conference of the church.In 2005, over 28,000 full-time delegates attended the conference at Sydney’s SuperDome at Olympic Park, making the biggest annual conference held in the nation of Australia.

Darlene is committed to raising and equipping people by teaching them the principles she herself lives by, and she speaks frequently at worship seminars and conferences around the world.

Darlene has a heart for helping hurting people and she has recognised that her public platform gives her the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of others. She is an Ambassador for the work of Compassion International, and has visited her sponsored children in various developing nations of the world.

It was a mission trip to CentralAfrica in 2004 that prompted Mark and Darlene to initiate ‘Hope: Rwanda’, a global endeavour designed to bring hope to a nation seemingly forgotten since the horrific genocide of 1994. The ‘100 Days of Hope’ project is strategically co-ordinated to cover the same 100 days that saw over one million people viciously slaughtered (6 April – 15 July 2006). 

Darlene and Mark also head up Mercy Ministries Australia, a residential program, working to strengthen families, by transforming the lives of young women dealing with issues like eating disorders, unplanned pregnancies and

Marriage and motherhood
Darlene and Mark reside in Sydney with their three daughters, Amy, Chloe and Zoe.While she travels extensively and has had the honour of ministering at many prestigious events around the world, Darlene highly prizes her role as wife and mother. She loves being at home and being part of the worship team in her local church. As she says, ‘first and foremost I am a worshipper, so it’s going to come out in everything I do.’