The Hillsong United band (stylized as Hillsong UNITED or UNITED) is a worship band that originated as a part of Hillsong Church. Formed in 1998 as part of Hillsong's youth ministry, the band 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, 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. Subsidiary bands perform monthly in London and at summer camps sponsored by Hillsong.
The single "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" from third studio album Zion reached number one on the American Billboard Christian Songs chart at the end of 2013, with remaining in the chart for 85 weeks. The song also charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 2014, peaking at No. 83.
The band was originally formed by close friends from within the youth ministry called "Powerhouse Youth", led by Hillsong Youth Pastors Phil & 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 year olds. 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 (18-25 years of age) and Wildlife (12-17 yrs). Reuben Morgan, assisted by guitarist Marcus Beaumont and vocalist/songwriter Tanya Riches, were the administrators of the 18-25's Powerhouse band that also included Mark Stevens, Nigel Hendroff, Peter King and Raymond Badham. At the older group Peter King was the main piano player and music director, with later guitarist Nigel Hendroff taking this music directing role. In the younger ministry Wildlife, the former Channel V Leg-Up competition-winning Able band boys Joel Houston and Marty Sampson were trained by Hillsong Music Pastor Russell Fragar, with Able band's Luke Munns and Michael Guy Chislett being the main drummer and guitarist, respectively while Joel Houston played bass. 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. Returning from Summer Camp, the youth ministries of Hillsong Church joined together on a monthly basis with these meetings called the "UNITED" Nights.
Delirious?' Martin Smith's song "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble" was the theme song of the 1997 camp, and the momentum of youth carried well beyond this camp into the church services, changing the style of the music. Reuben Morgan wrote "My Redeemer Lives". This song was included in the upcoming Hillsong album, By Your Side recorded in February that year. This album also featured youth songs including the title track written by Marty Sampson ("By Your Side") and Luke Munns ("Stay").
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. Everyday was recorded in 1999 and packaged with the Hillsong annual album. Both achieved Gold sales status in Australia. The band continued to release an album each year, rebranding as Hillsong United. In 2002 after Reuben Morgan stepped down as co-worship leader of the band, Joel Houston, the eldest son of the church's senior pastor Brian Houston, and Marty Sampson led the group together.
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; that is to say, due to the naturally resultant "churn". Former original drummer Luke Munns made a transition from the drums to front the rock/indie band LUKAS. Following his marriage to Michelle on November 2006, Sampson stepped down as one of the main leaders of the band. He contributed two more songs with United--"Devotion", which he wrote and sang, and "Saviour King", which he wrote with Mia Fieldes--before he officially stepped down. These songs were part of the 2007 release All of the Above. Current members of the Hillsong United band include Joel Houston, Jonathon Douglass (J.D.), Jadwin "Jad" Gillies, Matt Crocker, Taya Smith, Dylan Thomas (on rhythm guitar), Timon Klein (on lead guitar), Peter James & Benjamin Tennikoff (on keyboards), Adam Crosariol (on bass guitar), and Simon Kobler (on drums).
The annual Hillsong United CD/DVD was recorded for many years during the Hillsong youth ministry's October conference Encounterfest, and albums released in the first quarter of the following year. The 2007 album All of the Above was the first album to be fully studio recorded. The band has toured in a number of countries, leading worship in various places.
Hillsong United posted on their Facebook page 28 March 2010 that they were heading in to record their next album. This new studio project was recorded at 301 Studios in Sydney, Australia. Aftermath was released on 15 February 2011. The track "Go" from the album was later remade by Christian rapper KJ-52, on his album Dangerous.
The current members of the bands are:
Joel Houston -- worship leader, guitar, keys, percussion,
Jonathon "JD" Douglass -- worship leader, percussion,
Jad Gillies -- worship leader, guitar,
Matty Crocker -- worship leader, guitar, percussion,
Taya Smith -- worship leader,
Michael Guy Chislett -- guitar, keys, music director,
Dylan Thomas -- rhythm guitar, keys, music director,
Timon Klein -- lead guitar,
Benjamin "Tenni" Tennikoff -- keyboards, programming, sampling,
Adam Crosariol -- bass guitar,
Simon Kobler -- drums
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