Ardella V. Delker
Del Delker and The Voice of Prophecy have been inseparably linked for over sixty years. A household name in both Adventist and other Christian circles, Delker has inspired thousands with her rich contralto voice, singing familiar hymns and songs with a moving, heart-touching quality. From the start of her ministry at the VOP, her signature song was The Love of God. Both the message and the moving quality of her voice in singing it have touched countless listeners.
Although initially reluctant to accept the invitation to join the VOP, an offer she refused three times because she had not had musical training and could not read music, she finally accepted and began singing in the fall of 1947. She would become a popular part of the broadcast and a successful recording artist, featured on more than forty records and CD's.
Del Delker was born in Java, South Dakota, the younger of two children of Andrew and Martha Hartman Delker. She moved to California in 1931, when her mother, who was raising Del and her brother, Stanley, moved there with other members of her family.
A musical child from her earliest years, she loved to sing and as she reached her teenage years, aspired to sing with a dance band, an ultimate experience for a singer of popular music at that time. Although that dream was not realized, she did enjoy singing popular music as part of a women's group that performed in local USO (United Service Organizations) clubs during WW II, entertaining men in the armed forces.
While her mother was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church, Delker did not join until March 1947, having been converted in meetings held by The Quiet Hour. She then began to sing for them in their meetings and on their radio broadcasts and in the summer of that year performed in a camp meeting held in Lodi, California.
Shortly after that camp meeting, she was approached by the Voice of Prophecy to join them to sing - and to be their secretary. Although Delker sang just a few times for the broadcast initially and worked primarily as a secretary, beginning in 1950 she began singing regularly and in 1951 was included for the first time on a record made by the VOP quartet.
In 1953 she entered Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, to pursue a degree in religion. Her absence from the program and the wish of the VOP to have her closer to the studio led Delker to transfer to La Sierra College, now La Sierra University, at the end of the first year. As her studies continued, she also maintained a busy performance schedule, singing often for the broadcast, in churches and other venues on weekends, and at camp meetings during the summers. She completed her studies and graduated with a B.A. in 1958.
During Delker's many years with the VOP she traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, on the road originally and in the air eventually, in the U.S. and abroad, singing on behalf of the VOP, and "most importantly, the Lord," as she has often observed. Along the way, she sang and recorded music in fifteen different languages, appeared on the Faith for Today television broadcast, and learned to face the challenges that come with being a celebrity.
In 1982, when the VOP music department was disbanded, she was invited to continue on the broadcast. At that time she approached Hugh Martin, nationally famous popular composer and songwriter from an earlier era who had recently joined the church, to serve as her accompanist. They worked together in evangelism for most of the 1980s. In 2001 he accompanied her for a recording of a rewrite of his signature song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” changing “Merry” to “Blessed.”
Although she officially retired in January 1990, Delker occasionally continued to sing and travel until 2007. On June 30, 2002, she was honored for her 55 years of service when she joined with many of her friends from over the years to tape a video program called Del and Friends. It was the ultimate tribute to her and to her ability to work with so many other friends and musicians in selfless Christian ministry to persons around the world.
Delker and Wayne Hooper traveled with VOP groups to Adventist colleges and universities in 2004 to join with campus musicians in celebrating the VOP's 75th anniversary. For over fifty years she had performed many of his arrangements, and her last public performance was at his funeral in 2007. She now resides in California’s central valley.
Sources: Interview, 17 February 2005; Del Delker; Her Story as Told to Ken Wade, 2002 (The full story of Delker's life and ministry is related in this book, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Nampa, Idaho); Stephen Chavez, “I Know He Watches Me,” www.adventistreview.org, 2009; Gary Land, Historical Dictionary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (birth year), Scarecrow Press, 2005.