Artist Spotlight: Hillsong United – Pioneers of Modern Worship Music



Have you ever wondered how Hillsong United became one of the most influential worship bands in the world? With countless heart-stirring worship songs, Hillsong United is a pioneering force in modern worship music, consistently inspiring millions of believers across the globe. In this article, we will explore the formation and early years, the breakthrough and influence, the band members and collaborations, and the outreach and ministry of Hillsong United.

Formation and Early Years

Hillsong United was formed in 1998 as part of the youth ministry of Hillsong Church, led by Pastor Brian Houston. Originally named “United Live,” the group’s members came together with a vision for creating worship music that resonated with a younger generation of believers. Their first album, “Everyday,” was released in 1999, featuring a fresh and distinct sound that set them apart in the contemporary Christian music landscape.

Hillsong United developed their musical vision and style through various influences, mentors, and challenges that they faced along the way. They were influenced by artists such as Delirious?, U2, and Coldplay, who taught them how to blend rock, pop, and alternative elements into their music. They also learned from worship leaders such as Darlene Zschech, Reuben Morgan, and Marty Sampson, who mentored them in songwriting, leading worship, and expressing their faith through music. They faced challenges such as balancing their ministry and personal lives, dealing with criticism and expectations, and staying relevant and authentic in their music.

Breakthrough and Influence

Over the years, Hillsong United has grown into an internationally recognized worship band with numerous chart-topping albums and critically acclaimed songs. Their music fuses heartfelt worship lyrics with energetic melodies and modern instrumentation, giving voice to the praises of millions around the world. Some of their most beloved songs include “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail),” “Mighty to Save,” “Hosanna,” and “So Will I (100 Billion X).”

Hillsong United has received numerous accolades for their contributions to Christian music, including a Grammy Award, numerous Dove Awards, and several Billboard Music Awards. They have been recognized as one of the most successful and influential Christian music artists of their generation.

But more than awards and recognition, Hillsong United’s songs have impacted people’s lives and culture in profound ways. Their songs have inspired, comforted, and challenged people in their faith journeys. For example, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” has been described as a song that helps people overcome fear and trust God in difficult situations. Their songs have also been used in various events and occasions, such as the Global Day of Prayer, the World Youth Day, and the International Justice Mission’s Freedom Sunday. Hillsong United’s music has transcended boundaries and touched the hearts of millions of believers worldwide.

Band Members and Collaborations

Over the years, members of Hillsong United have changed, with new faces joining to bring their unique musical gifts to the table. Key members have included Joel Houston, Taya Smith-Gaukrodger, Jad Gillies, JD Douglass, Matt Crocker,
and many others. Each member plays a vital role in the band’s musical production and performance.

  • Joel Houston is the leader and main songwriter of Hillsong United. He is also the co-pastor of Hillsong NYC. He plays guitar, piano, and sings lead vocals on some of the band’s songs. He is known for his creative vision and passion for worship.
  • Taya Smith-Gaukrodger is the lead vocalist of some of Hillsong United’s most popular songs, such as “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” and “Touch the Sky.” She joined the band in 2010 after auditioning for Hillsong Church’s creative team. She is known for her powerful voice and humble spirit.
  • Jad Gillies is one of the original members of Hillsong United. He plays guitar and sings lead vocals on some of the band’s songs. He is also a worship pastor at Hillsong Church. He is known for his energetic style and charismatic presence.
  • JD Douglass is another original member of Hillsong United. He plays bass guitar and sings backup vocals on some of the band’s songs. He is also a creative pastor at Hillsong Church. He is known for his enthusiasm and joy for worship.
  • Matt Crocker is one of the main songwriters and producers of Hillsong United. He plays drums and sings lead vocals on some of the band’s songs. He joined the band in 2006 after being discovered by Joel Houston at a youth camp. He is known for his musical talent and sincerity.

Hillsong United has also collaborated with artists such as Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Chris Tomlin, and Michael W. Smith, further broadening their impact on Christian music. They have also featured guest vocalists such as Brooke Ligertwood, Lecrae, and Kari Jobe on some of their songs.

Outreach and Ministry

As an extension of Hillsong Church, the mission and purpose of Hillsong United are deeply rooted in serving Christ, touching lives, and transforming communities. Their passion extends beyond making music, reaching out to the vulnerable and marginalized through various charitable and humanitarian initiatives.

Some of the projects that Hillsong United supports include:

  • Compassion International, a Christian organization that sponsors children living in poverty and provides them with education, health care, and spiritual guidance.
  • A21, a global anti-human trafficking organization that rescues and restores victims of slavery and prevents human trafficking through awareness and advocacy.
  • Watoto, a holistic care program that provides physical, emotional, and spiritual care for orphaned and vulnerable children in Uganda.
  • Vision Rescue, a non-profit organization that provides education, nutrition, health care, and empowerment to children living in the slums of Mumbai, India.

Hillsong United also uses their music as a tool for evangelism and discipleship. They have performed in various countries and regions where Christianity is not widely accepted or practiced, such as Israel, India, China, and Africa. They have also partnered with local churches and ministries to share the gospel and disciple new believers through their music.

Recent Activities

Hillsong United is always busy with new projects and initiatives that showcase their musical talent and ministry heart. Some of their recent activities include:

  • They released their latest album “People” on April 26, 2019, which features 12 tracks of live worship songs recorded at Hillsong Church in Sydney. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart and number two on the Billboard 200 chart.
  • They are currently on tour with Amanda Lindsey Cook, another popular worship artist, for the “People Tour” that runs from April 25 to July 2, 2019. The tour will visit 32 cities across the United States and Canada, offering fans a night of powerful and intimate worship.
  • They recently participated in a special event called “The Send” on February 23, 2019, along with other Christian leaders and artists such as Francis Chan, Todd White, Bethel Music, and Jesus Culture. The event was held at two stadiums in Orlando and Brazil simultaneously, gathering over 100,000 people to pray, worship, and be commissioned for evangelism.
  • They are also preparing for the upcoming release of their documentary film “The I Heart Revolution: We’re All In This Together” on May 31, 2019. The film follows the band’s journey around the world as they share their music and their heart for social justice.


Hillsong United has played a monumental role in shaping the sound and reach of contemporary worship music, nurturing a generation of worshipers who are drawn to Christ through their music. As we celebrate their journey and contributions in this Artist Spotlight, we eagerly anticipate the continued inspiration and spiritual impact they will have on future generations.