Hillsong United’s rise in Christian music
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With over 100,000 weekly attendees around the world, Hillsong Church is no doubt one of the largest church organizations around the world. With multiple locations worldwide, their reach is grand. The church has a few bands associated with the name. The first is Hillsong Worship, which is the overarching body of worship teams that includes members of the other two bands as well as their own. The other two bands is Hillsong Young and Free, a young adult group consisting of 13 people with a music focus on the more electronic side. The last is Hillsong United.
Hillsong United began as the youth ministry band of Sydney, Australia’s Hillsong Church. Originally dubbed United Live, the group was first led by singers/songwriters Reuben Morgan and Marty Sampson. Their 1999 debut, “Everyday,” established their creative template: each album was recorded live at the annual October youth conference Encounterfest, enabling contributions from a variety of church members, friends, and supporters, including the popular Christian folk chanteuse Brooke Fraser, and released on CD and DVD early the following year. When Morgan left United Live in 2002 to mount a solo career, Joel Houston took his place, prompting the name change to Hillsong United.
In the years to follow, their popularity snowballed on both sides of the equator, with 2006’s “United We Stand” emerging as the year’s best-selling Christian LP at Canadian retail. “All of the Above” found similar success in 2007, as did 2009’s “Across the EARTH: Tear Down the Walls” and a live album that they made to accompany it, “Faith + Hope + Love.” The CD/DVD set “We’re All in This Together” showed up in 2011, with the double-disc “Live in Miami: Welcome to the Aftermath” arriving a year later.
By 2013, the group released “Zion,” their third studio album proper. It became their first Australian number one, and also hit the Top Five of the Billboard 200 in the U.S. Organic versions of the album’s songs landed on the EP Zion Acoustic Sessions later that year, while 2014 saw the group offer something more dancefloor-oriented with “The White Album: Remix Project.” The year 2015 brought the full-length Empires, which returned them to the number one spot at home. The live LP of “Dirt and Grace: Live from the Land” followed in 2016. The group later headed to Los Angeles to record their fifth studio record.
“Wonder” was released in 2017, and featured worship leaders Joel Houston and Matt Crocker delivering a collection of uplifting and inspirational pop and rock-infused tracks. Hillsong United has made a name for themselves amongst the Christian music scene, and with the announcement made last week of their United States tour, they are still continuing to do so.