“My first memories are of playing the violin,” David muses. “And I started playing the violin in church at a very early age, so the concept of worshipping with the violin was ingrained in me as a child. Now it is hard for me to worship without the violin. It was just such an integral part of my spiritual development.”
David’s prowess on the ‘fiddle,’ as he lovingly terms his instrument, soon gained him a reputation and opened doors for him to play in churches and concert halls around his home in the Pacific Northwest. But a music career didn’t appeal to him. Instead, he had his sights set on a career in Law.
“Law was going to be my ticket,” David confides. “I’ve always had a proficiency for translating abstract thought into clear, concise statements. And it was working. But eventually, God made it very clear to me that He had a different path in mind.”
The first indication of that ‘different path’ manifested itself during the rite of passage known as Spring Break. “I thought it would be cool to play on the streets for tips to pay for my trip to Venice Beach,” David recalls. “A guy who owned a recording studio heard me play and offered to record a demo, which was heard by a bunch of music executives and the next thing I knew I was signed to a record deal.”
After a freak auto accident prevented him from taking the requisite entrance exam, David found himself at least a year away from starting law school and without any visible source of income. “I decide to just tour the album,” he says. “I had been playing in churches locally for years, so I started booking myself. After my first concert, I sold 600 albums in a two-hour period.”
It was at that point that David finally conceded that perhaps God had a better career path than he did – a path that transcended the Law and moved into the realm of Grace.
A living, breathing example of that tension between the Law and Grace, David’s latest project, Legacy… Hymns of our Heritage, reflects his amazing ability to translate abstract concepts of faith into concise, pristine musical expressions of worship. Yet there is something wild and unbridled about these great standards of the church that defy cold and calculated logic. It is as if they are alive, filled with pent up passion and longing to break free of the structures that have kept them bound.
“Grace is the polar opposite of the Law, because it is intangible and you can’t control it,” he explains. “Most music is played to draw attention to the musician. But worship music is played to draw attention away from the musician and toward the Creator. Worship music is designed to create an environment that speaks of something higher. There is always a spirit of worship that translates through my playing. Worship is what I do. It is fundamental to who I am.”
Drawing on musical influences as diverse as traditional gospel, bluegrass, jazz, pop, folk, and old-world country, David teases the edges of memory, creating an atmosphere conducive to reflection, meditation, misty-eyed emotion and yes, worship.
From the ethereal strains of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” to the Celtic-influenced cadence of “Be Thou My Vision,” David creates flights of fancy from these familiar melodies that take you on a journey beyond what is, to what should be. From his reverential treatment of the beloved “Ave Maria,” to his bluegrassy version of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” to his richly textured yet gently nuanced performance of the world’s most famous hymn, “Amazing Grace,” David Klinkenberg’s artistry continuously points you past the performer and toward the Creator.
And that, he says, is as it should be.
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