Christian musician to perform in Napier

Hawkes Bay Today – 21 October 2004

A singer/songwriter who became right-hand man to the UK musician who penned the Christian anthem Shine Jesus Shine will perform at the Napier Central Baptist Church.

Waiouru-born David Lyle Morris, who has performed alongside Graham Kendrick in the UK, will give a free concert at the Napier Central Baptist Church in Riverbend Road on Saturday, November 13.

Mr Morris, who returned from the UK three years ago after 15 years in the UK, grew up in a military family and lived in the US, Fiji and the UK.

After returning to New Zealand, Mr Morris, who played guitar in various bands before being greatly impressed by Jesus Movement musicians Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill and Phil Keaggy, became a committed Christian when he was 16.

Between 1986 and 1988, when working on a civil engineering project for his master’s degree, Mr Morris helped install a drinking water supply for villages in Fiji.

His experiences overseas nurtured a love of languages, prompting him to take up Te Reo Maori when he returned to New Zealand with his Scottish wife, Liz, a counsellor, three years ago. The couple has a young son.

“Living in Fiji was such an influence for me and gave me such a life for Pacific people. It made me wonder what I could do to make a difference,” Mr Morris said.

Having turned his back on civil engineering and opting out of a career in the diplomatic service, Mr Morris has worked as a concert performer, worship leader and session singer across the world. The percussionist and guitarist is probably best known for his work alongside Kendrick and Belfast-based worship leader Robin Mark and Hillsong Australia lead vocalist Darlene Zschech. But the pinnacle for him was working alongside Grammy Award winner Gloria Gaynor.

He met Gaynor, whose roots are in black Gospel music, in 2001 when he played alongside her during a BBC Songs of Praise TV concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London. The concert was staged shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.

“It was fantastic performing with her just after 9/11. The fact that she came over from New York made it very close to home. I was the only white member of the band.”

Playing at the UK’s Spring Harvest Christian convention was another highlight. The conference attracts about 60,000 people every year. Unlike the Parachute music festival in New Zealand, which showcase bands and soloists, Spring Harvest has a more holistic approach to the arts and also includes large-scale church services and teaching from top speakers.

Mr Morris, who is a worship leader at an Anglican church in Auckland, has notched up nine albums over the years. The latest, Live In Ireland, earned the acclaim of Kendrick, who described Morris as “a wise and sensitive leader of worship, as well as an encourager and teacher of worship teams”.

“His many travels have produced a respect for a wide range of style, tradition and culture, and the ability to relate readily wherever he goes.”

Another string to Mr Morris’ guitar is lecturing on how to lead worship for the Bible College of New Zealand. He will share his experiences at the Baptist church with local worship leaders on November 11, 12 and 13.

As founder, with his wife, of the Restore Trust, Mr Morris says he has a vision to restore trust in relationships and unity across the boundaries of race, and to encourage Maori and Pacific Island Christian leaders.

“We should be trying to make a difference in the racial debate,” Mr Morris said.

“Pakeha should have a heart of compassion rather than accusation.”

As Mr Morris networks with key Maori and Pacific Island leaders, he is seeking to encourage what he calls a passionate Biblical approach to worship.

So what can people expect at the 7.30pm event on November 13?

“There will be something for all the generations.” A collection will be taken at the end of the concert. Mr Morris will also lead worship at the church the following Sunday morning.


Chris Gardner