Music has always been an important part of Darlene Zschech's life.
On the one hand, she came by her talent naturally, as both of her parents were musically inclined. After his death, Darlene learned that her father had even recorded an album of his own when he was 21, an album she is still hoping to find one day.
At the same time, her natural talent was cultivated through eight years of vocal training, and nine years of dance training.
At the age of 10, Darlene sang and danced and hosted segments of "Happy Go Round," a weekly children's television program. "It's something I really thank God for," she says in an article in Alive magazine, "because I had to learn seven to eight songs every week, doing backing vocals in a studio at 10 years old, every weekend. It was hard, but I thank God for it now because it gave me years of training with the very best that Australia had to offer."
She has used her talent in a variety of "secular" pursuits, including singing in commercials for McDonalds, KFC, Special K, and Diet Coke; and in 1994 putting choirs together for the highly successful Australian tours of Michael Bolton and Barry Manilow.
But at the age of 15, Darlene had an experience in which she says she was "overwhelmed by the unconditional love of God," and began the lifelong commitment to the Lord which has been at the center of all that she does.
During her teen years, she fronted various gospel bands in Brisbane.
Later, she and her husband Mark became part of a youth band that went to Sydney to go into the high schools there.
Then around 1990, the Zschechs left their home and church in Queensland, and moved to Sydney in New South Wales, where they became a part of the music team at Hills Christian Life Center.
After co-producing a number of successful live worship CD's, Darlene reached international prominence in 1996 with the worldwide release of "Shout to the Lord," Integrity Music's first live-worship CD featuring a female worship leader. It was an album that would remain #1 on the Praise and Worship charts for over 30 weeks.
In 1997, the CD was nominated for the Dove Award for Album of the Year, and in 1998 Darlene's song, "Shout to the Lord," was nominated for the Dove Award for Song of the Year.
In 1999, Darlene received the International Impact of the Year Award from the American Gospel Music Association in Nashville.
Today, she continues to serve as Worship Pastor at Hillsong Church in Sydney; continues to produce live-worship albums; continues to pursue her passion for song-writing; is integrally involved in the annual Hillsongs Conference, helping equip the more than 600 vocalists who attend to become more effective in local churches throughout the world, and inspiring the more than 10,000 people who attend the evening rallies; and has written a book entitled Extravagant Worship, which can be ordered through the Hillsong Church link on this site. She and Mark are also active supporters of Compassion International, sponsoring two children from Thailand and Rwanda, and Mark serving on the Board.
Through all of this, Darlene has worked hard to maintain her focus. Concerned that we may sometimes "worship the worship," and aware of the "temptation to focus on the gift, and not the gift giver," she seeks to keep her focus - and encourages others to keep their focus - on the Lord. As she said in an interview with the minister of the Dovedale Baptist Church in Liverpool, England, "This isn't a Darlene thing, this is something that I really believe is God's design. If I don't have an on-going relationship with the Lord then I've got nothing to say. It just becomes another song."
The support of her family and her church also help her to keep her perspective and to remain true and strong in her life and ministry. More than a collection of individuals, the singers and musicians with whom she works are a mutually supportive team, and her Church is an extended family. Furthermore, being married to a devoted husband, and the mother of three daughters, Amy Jaye, Chloe Jaz, and Zoe Jewel makes family a high priority in Darlene's life.
But above all else, Darlene knows that it is only in the strength of God that any of what she has accomplished has been possible,
and it is to God that she gives the praise and the glory.