She's been the worship pastor at Hillsong Australia for 18 years and has helmed some of the most popular worship projects ever, not to mention penning the popular worship anthem "Shout to the Lord." But how has Darlene Zschech's success-not to mention her role as a wife and mother and her childhood spent in front of a microphone-impacted the woman and worship leader she is today?

Listen to audio clips from Darlene's solo album Kiss of Heaven at

You've been in the spotlight since you were 10, singing with the best of the best in your native Australia. How did that early emphasis on performance impact the worship work you do now?
Darlene Zschech: It's been really good as far as confidence and even understanding musicianship and harmonies, [but] I grappled with the whole performance issue when I first got saved when I was 15. I stopped singing for a few years because I couldn't stop doing what I was trained to do. Then one day the Holy Spirit just nailed me and said, "you don't need to perform for Me." That thing rears its ugly head every now and again and it has to be put to death. But that's life in Christ, learning how to die so you can live.

You've been the worship pastor at Hillsong Australia for 18 years now. How has your approach to worship leading changed since the early days?
Zschech: It's changed so much. Just in confidence, as far as what you're born to do, I think that takes time to be confident in. Not having to explain everything, not having to prove yourself. Now I know much clearer who I am and that I first and foremost am a worshipper.

How many songs would you say you write each year and how do you fit that in between leading worship, recording and producing?
Zschech: Are we talking good songs? I don't know, maybe 50. Songwriting doesn't really fit; I'm just doing it all the time. I'm working on a song at the moment so it's in me, it's going around, so it's always happening.

What sparks a song idea for you?
Zschech: It probably gets sparked either reading the Word or hearing a message or just hearing a line. Sometimes even just seeing something in the newspaper that would break your heart. It's just something that causes passion and you go, "hey!" It starts there.

You and your husband, Mark, have three daughters. How has being a mom impacted what you do?
Zschech: Oh, it's everything to me. Amy's 14, Chloe's 10 and Zoe just turned two, and they're just divine. What it does is make sure what you're working on is important enough-to your or in their eyes-to be valuable enough to leave them. So it is always that equation.

In addition to writing, singing and recording, you're also doing more producing. How has that come about?
Zschech: I started doing it because the producers we were using would pull out the music, but they couldn't pull out the heart of our church. I would say, "I know that sounds like a great record, but that's not what we're here to make. We're here to make a statement of passion, of people giving their lives away, and this doesn't sound like that." So that's when I started to really get involved in pulling a different kind of music out of worship music. And over the years I've gotten more confident at it and can hear it more easily. Well, actually, I can find it more easily. I could always hear it, I just couldn't find how to pull it out, but now I can find it more easily, and it's something I love to do.