Most budding songwriters dream of their first composition becoming a global success.Usually it remains a dream:
For Dave Bilbrough, Abba Father became a giant step into international music-writing recognition. With over three decades in full-time Christian ministry and numerous albums later, he is recognised as one of Britain's foremost worship leaders and songwriters.
With a wide appeal that spans all Christian denominations and networks, songs such as All hail the Lamb, I am a new creation, Sound the Trumpet, Holy Ground, How Wonderful and Let there be Love have become a staple part of many a church's repertoire.
Drawing on folk roots and world music influences, Dave is in demand as troubadour and worship leader. His ministry brings an emphasis on the grace and faithfulness of God, uninhibited praise and reconciliation.
Dave's latest recording project, People of Promise features Dave and his band playing live in the studio creating music that is alive, organic and with heart. These are grace-centred songs that remind us of our togetherness and unity. May of the songs take up some of the key themes of an album he released 25 years ago called An Army of Ordinary People.
"I felt the time was right", says Dave, "to do something that had a different edge to it from many of the current expressions of worship, so I deliberately chose a direct and rootsy style to put these songs across."
Dave is also an author, having produced 3 foundational books of teaching earthing our worship experience around themes of grace, mission and the presence of God. He describes the process of book writing as ‘writing long songs where the words don’t need to rhyme’!
As well as leading celebrations all across the UK, Dave's travels have taken him to the USA, various European and Scandinavian countries, Malaysia, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Uganda, Kenya, Australia and the Middle East.
Building on previous visits plans are developing towards strategic worship and arts training programmes to encourage, train and support musicians in these countries.
Dave has made several appearances on national television and radio including hosting a special advent series for BBC1 in November/December 2003. For two consecutive years - 2006/2007 - he was invited to be the judge for the BBC Radio’s nationwide song-writing competition in the ‘contemporary worship’ category.
Dave was honoured with 2 awards for his previous independently released TV programme and DVD, "This is My Worship... Live and Acoustic". Emerging from a concert that he gave to help those affected by the Tsunami which then developed into a programme for God TV, the project scooped best Christian Music Television Programme and Best Christian music DVD at the Christian Broadcasting Council's 2005 media awards.
Recently, Dave has developed a presentation called Tales of a Troubadour" which has grown out of his "Live and Acoustic" events. Designed to crossover and connect with an unchurched audience this is an autobiographical journey of faith.
Having become a Christian in 1971, Dave found that, "Many of the hymns and songs used language and terminology I couldn't relate to". He picked up his guitar and began singing and writing songs of worship in a contemporary style. Seeing the importance of the worship ministry, the leadership in his home church encouraged and developed Dave in his calling, and gave Dave "the freedom to make mistakes". By the age of 19 he had led worship at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
Dave has been a regular participator at Spring Harvest, Europe's largest Bible teaching event. He brings experience, innovation and the prophetic into the worship arena. Over the years his travels have taken him into diverse situations; large scale worship events nationally and overseas as well as intimate home-group meetings, churches, village halls, cathedrals, boats and theatres – he even has the distinction of playing in an abattoir and a boxing ring.
Dave sees his role as a ministry rather than a career. He feels a worship leader is "someone who is a worshipper but uses his skills and gifts to encourage others into worship". The important thing in being proficient as a worship leader is "to be sensitive and open to God's voice". He also says, "To hear what God is saying is my constant desire and longing".
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