David Willersdorf’s journey from Sydney youth worker to Nashville recording artist has shown him the things in life that really matter.
What was your early life like—did it include music and faith or did that come later?
I’ve often heard my father, Brian Willersdorf, referred to as a kind of ‘Billy Graham of Australia’. My childhood was unique as I met a lot of great gospel singers who’d come to Australia to sing at my dad’s crusades. My mum is very musical, and always had us singing together as a family, which has really brought me a lot of joy.
At what point did you realise that music was going to be your life?
Music has always been an expression for me. It’s represented much joy and love in my family so I knew I’d be doing something with music as a result. At the same time, I was a youth worker in Sydney, working with troubled kids by day and playing music many nights and every weekend. Finally I had a song recorded by a large group that went international, so I realised that the door had opened for music to be both an expression and my full-time work.
Your recent single ‘Outside Yourself’ encourages listeners to reach beyond their own struggles and find hope by helping others—what prompted this idea?
I really enjoy the thought that kindness starts with God and keeps flowing on from there. I’ve received countless acts of kindness in my life, and I think that we’d all explode if we didn’t let the kindness keep moving through to other people. I feel that when we show small and large kindnesses to others we find the connection we were all designed for. Giving to other people connects us with them. ‘Outside Yourself’ is a feel-good tune that reminds me to keep thinking outside my own situation and look for people to be kind to. And that’s very cool!
What do you want to say with your new album, Outside the Inside?
As a musician, often you try things and fail, so I found myself writing about the tough times and the simple things that get you through it all—friendship, love, gratitude and kindness.
Why do you think this reminder is needed more now than any other time?
It interests me that at no other time in history has humanity had more capabilities to connect with other people through technology. Social media, 24-hour news channels, instant chat apps—we have it all at our fingertips. Yet at the same time many people are lonely, disconnected and reaching for false realities. It’s when we change gears and look at the lives of the people we cross paths with and look for ways to help others that we find a lot of the connection we’re missing—the face in front of us.
What would you say are the most important things in your life?
Authenticity to who I am and (with my faith in mind) how God wants to express himself through my life in the character, gifts and love he has given me to share and develop. If I get to the end of my life and know that—even with all my flaws—I have been a part of something bigger than my life, I’ll be happy.