Sunday night was a big night for worship band Hillsong United as they received their first ever American Music Award. This was their third consecutive nomination but the first time that the band has won in their category which is Favorite Artist - Contemporary Inspirational.
The band shared their joy at getting nominated in their Facebook page and encouraged their followers to vote on the official website for the American Music Awards. 2016 has been a big year for the band which originated from Hillsong Church in Australia. This year, they also won the Billboard Music Awards for Top Christian Artist and Top Christian Song for the "Oceans (Where Feet May fail)". In the recent Dove Awards, they were able to take home Worship Album of The Year for "Empires".
Hillsong United had humble beginnings. They started in 1998 as a band for the Hillsong Church youth group Powerhouse. They were started by close church friends, serving as the house band for the group during their youth meetings. Darlene Zschech, who was the worship pastor of the church at that time, eventually suggested to Reuben Morgan that Hillsong United should record their own album. They released their very first album, "Everyday" in 1999, and has been consistent in releasing a new album every year.
Their latest album, released this year is titled "Of Dirt and Grace: Live From the Land". A visual album, what makes this different is the band filmed live performances of the songs from various places in Israel where the events took place. For example, "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)," aa song which they previously released in their "Zion" album, was shot at the Sea of Galilee, and their "Here Now," was taken at The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.
We recorded Here Now (Madness) at first century tomb - regardless if it was Jesus' actual one or not - it was empty! https://t.co/iwnx8Ua3Fm
— Hillsong United (@hillsongunited) November 15, 2016
Joel Houston, son Brian Houston and creative director of Hillsong United describes the making of "Of Dirt and Grace" as "raw and organic." He said that they never pre-arranged any of the songs in the album while they were shooting the live video. They would just show up at the spots they had chosen, and while technicians would start setting up, that's the only time that they would figure out how the songs would be played. He called the process amazing, as there was no pressure for the team, they just played and let the Holy Spirit take over.
This year, Hillsong United also released a documentary entitled "Let Hope Rise," which chronicles their rise from a house band to a worship band that tours around the world to audiences of thousands. In the documentary, Joel Houston shares his belief that music was created for the purpose of connecting the human heart and soul to heaven. Other members of the band like Taya Smith and Michael Guy Chislett share their testimonies.
The band has wrapped up their tour in the US for this year and are planning to tour in Israel by April of next year.