Hillsong United – Hillsong Band
Hillsong United is a worship band that originated as a part of Hillsong Church. The band was formed in 1998 as part of Hillsong’s youth ministry. It consists of several rotating worship leaders from the church, including Brooke Fraser, Joel Houston, Reuben Morgan and Marty Sampson.
Due to several songs written by the youth ministry, Hillsong worship leader Darlene Zschech recommended that they record an album, which resulted in their debut extended play, One, which was released alongside the Hillsong Worship album Touching Heaven Changing Earth. Since then, the group has released eleven annual live albums, as well as four studio albums. The band composes songs and performs in church services as well as concerts in worldwide tours.
The band was originally formed in 1998, by close friends from within the youth ministry called “Powerhouse Youth”, led by Hillsong Youth Pastors Phil and Lucinda Dooley for many years. As the house band for the Powerhouse meetings, they played original songs and rearranged popular radio tunes at their weekly meeting for local youth aged 16–25. Band members sometimes also contributed to the larger interdenominational ministry Youth Alive Australia and its albums. Most members of the band also attended Hillsong Church services.
Powerhouse grew and split in the late 1990s into two youth groups: Powerhouse (aged 18–25) and Wildlife (12-17). Reuben Morgan, assisted by guitarist Marcus Beaumont and vocalist/songwriter Tanya Riches, administrated all United nights, albums and events until 2003, when the role was passed on to Joel Houston. The three performed with the 18-25’s Powerhouse band that also included Mark Stevens, Nigel Hendroff, Peter King and Raymond Badham. For the older group Peter King was the main piano player and music director, with guitarist Nigel Hendroff later taking the music directing role.
They were initially trained by Russell Fragar. Marty Sampson, Holly Dawson, Mark Stevens, Katrina Peoples, Michelle Fragar, Tanya Riches and Bec Mesiti were some original key vocalists. In the Summer of 1997 the team made a huge impact at their youth ministry’s Summer Camp. On returning from the camp, the youth ministries of Hillsong Church decided to join together monthly, calling these meetings the “UNITED” Nights.
Darlene Zschech suggested to Reuben Morgan that the youth band make an album in 1998 after so many songs were written in the youth ministry. As a result, the EP One was recorded by a new band. Everyday was recorded in 1999 and packaged with the Hillsong Worship annual album.
The band’s members are involved in Hillsong Church services and also play for the church. Many were volunteers who went unpaid for their time or contribution. As such the line up changes on a regular basis due to the volunteers needs and the needs of the church.
Hillsong United Members
Current Hillsong United Members
The members of the band as of 2016 were:
- Joel Houston – worship leader, guitar, keys, percussion
- Jonathon “JD” Douglass – worship leader, percussion
- Jad Gillies – worship leader, guitar
- Matt Crocker – worship leader, guitar, percussion
- Taya Smith – worship leader
- Dylan Thomas – guitar, keys, music director
- Simon Kobler – drums
- Michael Guy Chislett – guitar, keys, music director
- Benjamin “Ben” Tennikoff – keyboards, programming, sampling
- Jihea Oh – bass guitar
- Benjamin Hastings – worship leader
Former Hillsong United Members
Former members of the band are:
- Adam Crosariol – bass guitar
- Michelle Fragar – worship leader
- Brooke Fraser – worship leader, guitar
- Luke Munns – drums
- Annie Garratt – worship leader
- Timon Klein – lead guitar
- Sam Knock – worship leader
- Peter James – piano, keyboard, synthesizer
- Hayley Law – worship leader
- Jill McCloghry – worship leader
- Marty Sampson – worship leader, guitar
- David Ware – worship leader
- Nigel Hendroff – lead guita
Hillsong United Albums
- Let There Be Light
- All of the Above
Hillsong United Songs – Hillsong Worship Songs
- Here Now (Madness)
- Say The Word
- Heart Like Heaven
- Touch The Sky
- Street Called Mercy
- When I Lost My Heart To You
- Even When It Hurts
- Prince Of Peace
- Closer Than You Know
- Behold (Then Sings My Soul)
- Love So Great
- Look To The Son
- What A Beautiful Name
- Your Word
- Let There Be Light
- In Control
- Grace to Grace
- I Will Boast in Christ
- As It Is (In Heaven)
- Shadow Step
- Future Marches In
- So Will I (100 Billion X)
- Splinters and Stones
- Glimmer In The Dust
- Greatest Of These
- Shape Of Your Heart
- Not Today
- Rain / Reign
- Water To Wine
Hillsong United Instagram
Hillsong United Website
Hillsong United Music – Video
Hillsong United News
Music: Still Bringing “Life And Hope” – Hillsong’s Young & Free Make It ‘Iii’
Updated On: 20th August 2018
Six years ago, when Aodhan King was aged in his late teens and among the foundation members of Hillsong youth band Young & Free, one of the ideas that drove him was to correct the image of what church, what following Jesus, was all about.
“When we started we really wanted our friends at the time to get this understanding that…life with Jesus is fun,” recalls the now 25-year-old Sydneysider.
“[W]hen I was finishing high school and stuff, a lot of people were scared to come to church, I think, for fear of being judged or feeling that God was angry at them. And [we thought], if we can just change that narrative and say, ‘Actually, you know what, that’s not what church, that’s not what Jesus is like’.”
Three albums later, that mission hasn’t changed, says King.
“That’s our prayer, that [people who listen to us] walk away feeling excited and inspired about life, and hopeful about the future.”
Formed out of Hillsong’s youth group, Young & Free released their first album, We Are Young & Free, in 2013, and followed it up with the Grammy-nominated Youth Revival, in 2016.
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“None of us had any history of background in that at all,” says King of those early days. “We just loved music, loved God and…so we started writing songs and fell into it. It was never really anything more than that.”
Their latest album, simply titled III, is their first studio album – something King says was a welcome change.
“I think it was really exciting working on this album in the studio because it gave us time to really flesh things out. I think it also allowed there to be way more collaboration and more people involved because there wasn’t as much time pressure…” he says.
That said, recording a live album allows artists to “capture the excitement and the energy in the room” in a way a studio album doesn’t, so King notes that the band also recorded a live version of the album which will come out later this year.
“So we have the best of both,” he adds.
As well as singing on the album, King was also involved in writing the songs – a collaborative experience that he says involves the writers drawing on their own life experiences, particularly with regard to their faith walk.
“It’s very hard for me to write about things that I’m not aware of or I haven’t been through…” he says. “So, for me, always I’ve had to write from my own experiences with God and my own life and how my faith has helped me through those journeys…[It] always kind of starts with what God’s speaking to me about or maybe in a melody – for me writing melodies kind of bring up thoughts about things…Melodies tend to inspire a certain thought process for me.”
While Young & Free is one of three Hillsong bands – Hillsong Worship and Hillsong United being the other two, King says they don’t have any trouble keeping their sound distinctive.
“The one thing that makes us all different is that we’re all different,” he says. “Joel [Houston] who heads up United, he’s got his own thing and…it’s the same with Worship…I think to be creative in any field you have to be yourself in order for it to be unique because we’re all made differently. And I guess that’s the best thing about us as people…But you need to be intentional and you need to constantly be listening and being aware. I do think God is doing something different amongst all three of us although we’re part of the same church, same family.”
“It’s very hard for me to write about things that I’m not aware of or I haven’t been through…”
– Aodhan King
Part of that distinctiveness is owed to the way in which Young & Free’s members intentionally stay in touch with youth culture through the church’s youth group.
“We write the sound that’s actually coming out of our youth group,” says King. “The more attached we are to youth culture, it just rubs off on you and that’s kind of what you write.”
That youth community was critical to King’s own faith journey. He first started coming to the Sydney-based church as a boy after being invited by his cousins and quickly found there was “nothing better to do than go to youth on a Friday night”.
King says that while everything changed for him after he was saved at the age of 13, the sense of community he’d encountered at the youth group was a critical part of that walk.
“Jesus changed everything for me but it was the community as well. That was just like nothing else. I still think the church is the ‘funnest’ place to hang out.”
But he adds later that remaining in contact with a wide network of people has also been important for him – particularly given the time spent away touring (so far this year, he’s only been home for a month-and-a-half).
“I’ve got great friends in different churches around the world who help [me] on the journey….” he says. “Sometimes that’s the hardest thing when you’re serving day-in/day out at church – you can start to feel isolated, especially when your friends start doing other things and moving on into their careers. I think it can be hard to keep at it but I think if you can get connected to people who are doing the same thing, that really helps.”
Making the latest album, meanwhile, has provided Young & Free with the chance to look back over their six year journey and see how, amid all the highs and lows, God has always “worked things out”, says King.
And that’s the message he hopes people will take away from it.
“I think that’s really special about this album. So I just hope that listeners will be filled with a sense of hope and that everything’s going to be OK and that ‘God’s got me’.”