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Dallas/Ft. Worth, TXDavid C Cook has recently made a significant investment into the world of worship music in acquiring Kingsway, a UK-based music publisher that produces 30% of the best-selling worship music in North America. While the music division will remain in Eastbourne, England, the newly established North American office will be opening in Colorado Springs, CO, in March. Steve Nicolle, director of Music & Media at David C Cook Distribution Canada will be heading up this new Kingsway office.

Within the Christian market, six to twelve of the top twenty-five worship songs accessed in Africa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States were Kingsway titles, according to CCLI’s August 2009 figures. Brenton Brown may be the most popular worship leader that you’ve never heard of. With five of his songs in the CCLI top 100, millions of people sing his songs in churches across the continent every week. Brenton’s work includes “Lord Reign in Me,” “Your Love Is Amazing,” “Hosanna (Praise Is Rising),” and “Everlasting God,” which was honored by ASCAP as one of the most performed songs in the USA in 2007 across all genres, marking the first time that a worship song has been recognized with such an honor. 

Establishing a Kingsway presence in North America has been developed to more effectively serve the North American church with music. “Bringing worship music into our publishing mix fits very well with David C Cook’s corporate vision of equipping the church worldwide. It also serves our goal to make content our main focus. Songs are basically little pieces of curriculum that have meter and music to make them stick. As we incorporate excellent music into our already-strong curriculum lines, we will bring a whole new dimension of resources to the church,” says Nicolle.

By launching Kingsway in North America, David C Cook is taking a long-standing partnership with the music publisher to the next level. David C Cook has held a 55% interest in Kingsway since 1992. In 2009, DCC acquired the remaining 45% after Kingsway Trust decided that DCC was best placed to develop Kingsway’s global reach. “David C Cook has a world vision which is greater than simply selling products to English speaking nations,” says Kingsway Executive Director John Paculabo. “DCC’s vision to provide resources to the church worldwide resonates with us. Another factor affecting our decision is the fact that David C Cook is a nonprofit organization. Their end-game is ministry, not producing returns for stockholders or a parent company.”

For more than thirty years, Kingsway has produced excellent worship music from well-known artists like Delirious?, Tim Hughes, Matt Redman, and Keith Getty. While these artists received a warm welcome in Canada and the USA, some of the best worship songwriters from the Kingsway Music list went largely unknown.

Nicolle elaborates, “While many of our songwriters are not well known in North America, their songs are. Outside of North America, people know these songwriters by name. Here, their songs were recorded by other well-known recording artists. Directly overseeing and investing in our work in North America means that we can bring these top-notch songwriters themselves to the forefront so that both the songwriters and their songs are recognizable in churches. We need to help North Americans catch up on who the writers of the songs are, connecting them with their stories.”

In addition to bringing exposure to their recognized praise and worship artists, Kingsway is investing in developing home-grown talent in North America. Canadian Ben Cantelon (from Christian Life Assembly, Langley, BC) will have his new album, Running After You, launch on March 23rd. Nashville-based praise and worship artists Chris McClarney, Kelly Minter, and Miriam Webster all have albums releasing in 2010.

What makes Kingsway so special? In recent years the Christian music industry has become an increasingly artist-driven endeavor. New songs are written to appeal to radio audiences and for the tour circuit. While many of those songs will eventually be sung in churches, their first audience is a commercial one. The songs are often moving and memorable, but they are also written to showcase a performer’s style and vocal range, not to be sung by the everyday folks who come to worship on Sunday morning. By contrast, over 90% of Kingsway songwriters are worship leaders in local churches. The first people to sing their songs are the members of their own congregations. This directly affects the content and style of every song they write. In fact, 99% of all Kingsway titles are either praise and worship or choral pieces.

“Our goal is really to find, develop, and mentor worship leaders who are rooted in the local church and write for their local communities and then to find those whose songs can go beyond the local community to the national church or even the international church,” says Paculabo. “We’ve always been focused on developing songs that can be sung by the corporate body of Christ. Substance is very important. We’re not just looking for a catchy ‘hit’. We’re looking to develop the hymns of the 21st century, songs that will be sung in churches a hundred years from now.”

The Kingsway approach dovetails beautifully with David C Cook’s stated vision to serve the global church. “Through Kingsway, we will be able to meet the needs of local churches like never before,” says David C Cook President and CEO Cris Doornbos. “We view corporate church worship as a discipleship opportunity, just like small groups or Sunday school. The experienced team at Kingsway have spent decades identifying, developing, and encouraging local worship leaders. When you think about the sheer number of worship leaders writing for their American congregations, the potential for adding profoundly theological, memorable songs to the catalogue is amazing.”

Kingsway will release twenty-five to thirty new albums yearly for the North American markets.  Canadian distribution is through David C Cook Distribution Canada. American distribution is through EMI Christian Music Group (EMI CMG), which owns 50% of the Kingsway song catalogue, Thank You.

“Kingsway has long been known for its song catalogue featuring titles that are full of substance that encourage believers to grow in their understanding of and relationship with God. Creating a partnership between Kingsway and EMI in a shared ownership of this catalogue has enriched the US church as it brought together songs full of deep theological teaching wrapped around music that is relevant and refreshing,” says EMI CMG President and CEO Bill Hearn. “We share Kingsway’s desire to serve the church with songs that are not only inspirational, but are also sources of truth that teach the very essentials of the Christian message.”

Over the years, Kingsway has earned the respect and friendship of its peers in the worship music market. “Whenever I think about Kingsway I think about the Kingdom—because I have found them to be not so much committed to building a company, but totally committed to joining Christ’s endeavor of building His Kingdom—a Kingdom not made by human hands and reaching into eternity for the glory of God! They are our friends and we consider them to be wonderful partners in the ministry of leading people all over the world to Christ,” says Mike Harland, director of LifeWay Worship.

For Kingsway, developing a literal North American presence is a crucial step toward reaching the global church. “The United States, in particular, has a voice that’s heard around the world. We are called to be a global resource provider, and you can’t do that without a presence in the USA,” Paculabo says.

Doornbos adds, “Because Kingsway needs a presence in North America, there will be an office at David C Cook in Colorado Springs and we will be able to develop real synergy. The time is right for North American songwriters to find their voices, for the church’s benefit and for God’s glory.”

Since 1875, David C Cook continues to be a leading nonprofit global resource provider serving the Church with life transforming materials. Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Co, with offices in Elgin, Illinois, Paris, Ontario, Canada, and Eastbourne, UK, David C Cook resources are published in over 150 languages, distributed in more than 80 countries, and sold worldwide. The Kingsway music division produces over 30% of the top 500 praise and worship songs sung around the world. For more information visit