Worship leader, songwriter and pastor Darlene Zschech has recently released her brand new worship live album Here I Am Send Me. The album was recorded live at Hope Unlimited Church on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, and features 11 new songs penned by Zschech along with guest writers like Martin Smith, Paul Baloche, Jenn Johnson and Leeland Mooring. The album is her first project following a life changing cancer diagnosis in 2014 and her first new album since 2013's critically acclaimed Revealing Jesus.
Produced by Andy Mak, Here I Am Send Me opens with a full-on declaration of the greatness of God in the song and forthcoming radio single from the recording, "You Are Great," written with Smith (Delirious?). The album also features "You Will Be Praised," written with Baloche and Johnson, "Beloved," a modern hymn of surrender co-written by Zschech with Mooring and Casey Moore, "Love and Wonder," written by the Zschech's teen daughter, Zoe,and Bonnie Gray, "Kingdom Come," co-written with Thomas Macken, and "Go," written with Mak. "Go" also closes the album and serves as a song of commissioning along with the title track, Here I Am Send Me.
Q: Darlene, thank you so much for doing this interview with us. Congratulations on the release of your new album. Though this is titled a Darlene Zschech album, you have involved your church HopeUC in many aspects of it. Why is it important for you to make it a church-involved album?
I am a local church girl through and through. So, for it to be authentic to where I am in my life, and for the sound to be true, then I was very committed to involve the worship team with whom I do life on a local, everyday level.
It was especially wonderful for so many of our team, who have never even been in a recording studio, let alone recorded an album. This has been one of the most exciting seasons of my life.
Q: You have also involved members of the church to sing lead vocals on a few of the songs. When you are choosing worship leaders, what do you look out for?
It's an interesting question. I think that if you are continually loving people, and encouraging them in their gifting, it becomes very plain to see who has a beautiful anointing on their life to lead others in worship. It is not based on talent, but based on humility, personal conviction in regards to the presence of God, their love for the local body in which they are planted. It is NEVER about people getting "their turn or opportunity." One of the great loves of my life is releasing other worship leaders into the call of God on their lives.
Q: How many songs did you select initially for this record? And how do you narrow down your choices? What are your criteria in choosing songs?
We just kept writing and re-writing, throwing away bits and pieces until in the end, I felt what was in my heart and Holy Spirit inspired in regards to the correct messaging of this album... when those songs had come to the surface with clarity and power, then I knew we were done.
Q: "You Will be Praised" is easily one of the best songs on the album. You co-wrote it with Paul Baloche and Jenn Johnson. How did you do that? Did you write with them face to face? Or over skype?
We wrote while we were all together in Nashville... all talking about the goodness of God. I went in with an idea, and we just worshipped our way through to the final product. There is nothing greater than giving God praise in the midst of a storm. It's there you will find a peace that passes all understanding... so beautifully, supernaturally transforming.
Q: Being an Australian myself, I was glad that you have chosen to work with Australian producer Andy Mak (Tina Arena and Stan Walker) as producer as well as co-writer. What did Andy bring to the record that you appreciate?
Andy is a dear friend of ours and also a very Godly man who has a passion to see worship music written and recorded with excellence. He was an easy choice. He is also from the Central Coast... God is doing so many good things around here.
Q: Many of our readers are worship leaders in their various churches. One of the perennial problems they face is that there are people in churches who are very resistant to sing a new song. How do you help worship leaders who want to engage their churches to "sing a new song" (Psalm 96:1)?
Whenever you teach a new song, lead it as if you've been singing it for a hundred years. You don't need to announce it. Just weave it into a song everyone loves and knows. Get everyone to sing melody, and if it's a good song, no one will realize it's a new song until they've already fallen in love with it!
Q: Are there any other Christian songwriters or worship leaders you would like to work with in the near future?
I have the great privilege of working with the best of the best. And then I simply glean from some of the powerful offerings from so many amazing people who are writing and leading us all in worship across the globe. I never try too hard to plan these things, as I love to write out of relationship, so I just trust the Lord that I would have the privilege to get to know some of the greats that I have yet to meet. I am also LOVING writing with some of the guys from our own church, to whom writing is a new experience... it makes it all SO much fun!
Q: You mentioned on Twitter that you have hopes for a HopeUC worship album! Will that be anytime soon? Please don't make us wait too long for your next project!
We will be releasing a song at a time for a little while. Then we'll see how we go... God is doing so many great things at church and on the Central Coast at the moment. We are just trying to capture His heart to the very best of our ability, day by day, week by week. The privilege for me remains one of life's highlights. From my own children to our spiritual children, seeing their hearts for God poured out through offerings of worship... life is very sweet right now.