For David M. Edwards, worship has long been more than a vocation, more than a form of musical expression; it’s truly a lifestyle. On his new album, “Heart Full of Soul,” Edwards’ worshipful lifestyle collides with his longtime passion for gospel music. The result is a collection of songs that shine with Edwards’ lyrical genius and simmer with an unexpected soulfulness that’s as joyful as it is poignant.

If Chris Tomlin and Andrae’ Crouch collaborated on a worship project, it might sound much like “Heart Full of Soul.” Working with acclaimed producer Phil Sillas, Edwards has crafted an album that pays loving homage to the gospel music he loved as a child. “I wanted to get back to my roots, back to seeing some soul put back into worship music,” says Edwards. “When I was just a kid, I lived in the inner city and growing up my parents were always playing Andrae’ Crouch, Walter Hawkins, Elvis Presley, Ethel Waters, Mahalia Jackson and Danniebelle Hall.”

The first single from the album is “I Love the Lord.” “It is as funky as can be and it comes from Psalm 34,” Edwards relates. “One day I was running at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and I started getting this real funky groove in my head. I just started singing to the Lord, making stuff up like I do. Then the more I did, the more words would come and I thought, ‘Okay, this is more than me just singing to Him.’ I instantly felt that this was the truth that the Lord wanted to communicate through a song.”

Edwards learned early in life that music was a powerful vehicle for conveying God’s truth. Before he turned five, Edwards began playing piano by ear and became an accomplished classical pianist. By the time he was 14, he was writing his own songs. “In the high school days I began to embrace Michael McDonald, Chaka Khan, Al Green, Earth Wind & Fire, those kinds of influences,” Edwards says. “Richard Smallwood was a huge influence in high school and college. I loved the way these guys played the piano and identified with that style. I wasn’t trying to be them. It’s like that was already in me and when I discovered that music it validated what I felt musically, what I did musically.”

On “Heart Full of Soul” Edwards’ love for the music he grew up with is intertwined with years of worship experience and hands on pastoral work. His parents were on staff at an inner city church during his childhood and Edwards developed a servant’s heart and a broad, compassionate view of different people and cultures. That foundation has served him well as he pastored a multi-cultural church for 15 years and as he followed God’s call into academia, teaching graduate courses at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. In 2010, David was appointed artist-in-residence in the School of Divinity where he also now serves as the creative director of the Regent University International Center for Worship. The student body represents over 90 nations and 40 denominations, providing Edwards an opportunity to interact with worshippers from all over the world. He also developed and leads the Worship 365: Power to Worship Encounters, which inspired his acclaimed 2006 book Worship 365: The Power of a Worshiping Life.

In addition to his experience as a pastor, professor and author, music has always been a vital part of Edwards’ life. He’s earned the respect and affection of some of the Christian music’s community’s most gifted artists and he’s collaborated over the years with Margaret Becker, Ginny Owens, Chris Eaton, Steve Hindalong, Tommy Walker, Natalie Grant and Kathy Troccoli among others. In 2005, David was awarded Worship Leader Magazine’s “Best Scripture Song” Praise Award for his song, “Create In Me,” and in 2007, he received a Worship Leader Magazine’s Praise Award for “Holy Rain.”

Edwards is humbled and appreciative of the recognition his work has received, but the greatest joy comes from seeing people ushered into the presence of God through music, and he’s excited about “Heart Full of Soul” providing a vehicle for the listener to connect more profoundly with their heavenly Father. “When it comes to worship, God gives us a platform and it’s a platform to lead people into his presence,” Edwards says. “We have to treat that as holy ground with respect.”

Though his previous efforts have earned him a reputation as one of the world’s most gifted worship leaders, Edwards is especially pleased with what he and Sillas were able to accomplish on “Heart Full of Soul.” “I’ve been privileged to be around writing music and doing everything all these years, but this is the first time I’ve ever made a record that is the R&B gospel soul that is me,” Edwards says. “People who have seen me live would always say, ‘Wow! Why don’t your records sound like that?’ Though I’m proud of the art we created before, this is really who I am.”

In creating the new album, Edwards made multiple trips to the West Coast to work on writing songs and then began recording there. “We took our time,” Edwards says of recording the album over a nine-month period. “It wasn’t just getting into the studio and hammering out 10 tracks in three days like I’ve been so used to doing all my life.”

Edwards invited some of his favorite voices to join him in the studio including the legendary family group, the McCrarys and Markita Knight, who also contributed her distinctive vocals to Andrae’ Crouch’s latest album, “The Journey.” “The McCrarys are on the whole record, and we’ve also got brass,” he says of the powerful sounds on “Heart Full of Soul.

As entertaining as the album is musically, it’s just as nourishing lyrically. Among the most compelling songs is “God’s Still on the Throne.” Written by Edwards, Sillas and Tommy Walker. The opening lines offer encouragement:


Edwards wraps his warm, seasoned voice around the lyric and offers up a potent reminder that God is indeed in control. “Heaven’s Prince of Peace” is a powerful worship song, penned by Sillas and Edwards that is among the album’s many highlights and an obvious anthem to be embraced by the church. “The Same Spirit” serves to remind us of the power living within.

“We Are Here to Worship” is another song Edwards wrote while out running at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. “That song has really taken off live,” Edwards says. “The first time I ever did it live, before we ever recorded it, I told Sillas, ‘There’s something about this song and the response it gets. People get half way through that first verse and they just stand up with no prompting from me. There’s no explanation other than it’s something the Lord obviously connects with people.”

David M. Edwards is a busy man who wears many hats—author, professor, singer, songwriter, husband, father and friend, but none define him better than worshipper, and the music on “Heart Full of Soul” reflects the joy and passion with which he praises God. “We have created something to God’s glory that I think will bless people and bless His heart,” Edwards says of the album. “Every song has a story – whether I wrote it out running one day or whether I wrote it at my piano at home – or Phil and I were having coffee on the beach and talking about scripture. Every one of them came from a place of abiding in Him, a place of loving the Lord and worshiping Him.”