Darlene Joyce Zschech (/dɑrˈliːn ˈtʃɛk/; born Steinhardt on 8 September 1965) is an Australian Pentecostal Christian worship leader and singer-songwriter who primarily writes praise and worship songs. Described as a "pioneer of the modern worship movement", she is the former worship pastor of Hillsong Church and is currently a member of Compassionart, a charity founded by Martin Smith.
Life and career
Zschech started on television at the age of 10, as part of an Australian children's show, Happy Go Round. When she was 13, her parents divorced and the emotional stress of being on television and her parents' divorce resulted in her having bulimia for about four years.
In 1980, when Zschech was 15, her father rededicated his life to Christ and began taking her to church, where she also became a committed Christian and met her future husband, Mark Zschech. When they married, her husband suggested that they move from Brisbane to Sydney, which was confirmed at a small church they were visiting one Sunday when the guest speaker said in the middle of his sermon, "This doesn't happen to me very often, but whatever it is you two prayed last night, God says do it now." They began attending Hills Christian Life Centre, which would become Hillsong Church.
Zschech sang jingles for a number of international companies including McDonald's, KFC and Coca Cola, until she eventually joined the staff of Hillsong Church after penning "Shout to the Lord". She released a vinyl album in 1987 called "Make the Choice" and a cassette album in 1993 called Pearls & Gold.
Zschech and her husband have three daughters, Amy, Chloe and Zoe. In 2000 she had a miscarriage after 12 weeks.
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 2000, Zschech received a Dove Award nomination for Songwriter of the Year and received the International Award for influence in praise and worship.
In 2003, Zschech released her first official solo album, Kiss of Heaven. Change Your World followed in 2005. She has since released two albums, in 2011, called Simply Darlene and You Are Love. In addition to writing songs, she has written five books: Worship (1996), Extravagant Worship (2002), The Kiss of Heaven (2003), The Great Generational Transition (2009) and Revealing Jesus: A 365-Day Devotional (2013).
On 11 December 2013, Zschech was diagnosed with breast cancer. In a blog dated 30 November 2014, she wrote that she has been healed of cancer, which her doctor termed "quite miraculous".
Zschech was the worship pastor of Hillsong Church from 1996 to 2007, during which time she served as producer, vocal producer or executive producer for more than 20 albums under the Hillsong Music label and wrote more than 80 published worship songs. Under Zschech's leadership, the album People Just Like Us (1994) was the first Christian album in Australia to go Gold as well as the first to go Platinum and the album For All You've Done (2004) debuted at #1 on the Australian Record Industry Association album charts. Zschech explained Hillsong Music's stance in her book Extravagant Worship in a prayer: "Father, let them quickly get their eyes off of us. We just want to point them to you, God, because you are the Author of truth. You are the only One who is to be praised."
Zschech stepped down as worship pastor in 2007, but continued to write songs for Hillsong and to serve as senior worship leader on their live albums. Reuben Morgan was appointed Hillsong worship pastor in 2008.
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