Since Taya’s voice was first heard on the Hillsong United track Oceans in 2013 – a song that boasts a record-breaking 61 weeks at the #1 on the Billboard Top Christian Songs Chart – she has become a leading figure of worship within the church.
Alongside her bandmates, Taya has sung live to over 10 million people around the world and contributed to one billion career streams for United and Hillsong Worship releases.
On May 27, Taya will have a new career first, stepping out with her own solo worship album – a project she told Hope 103.2’s UNDISTRACTED podcast that will allow her to put her voice to her own lyrics and melodies and her own revelations of who Jesus is.
“It’s also a new space of vulnerability,” Taya said – a fact that’s held her back from sharing her songs in the past, and that she realised she had to get over if she was going to use her gifts in the ways she believed God intended.
“I feel like I’ve had this holy fear [saying to God], ‘I know that you’ve put something in my hand Lord, but I haven’t been a good steward of it’,” she said.
It was at a team meeting with fellow United member Jad Gillies that Taya got clarity around why she had been so reluctant to share her songs.
“He said, ‘It’s actually fake humility, which is pride, that you’re not willing to show your songs to people, that you’re not willing [to be] uncomfortable, to allow people to come alongside of you and help you get better’,” Taya said.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh that’s what I’ve done’. I’ve cared more [about] people’s opinions. And that’s a way that I don’t believe I’m called to live – nor in other areas of my life do I live – so why would I bow out before I’ve even had a chance to show people [my songs]?”
Across the 14 songs on the album, Taya addresses everything from the way events like the death of African-American man George Floyd in the United States must grieve the heart of God to our decision to let Him lead us in life, in her first single For All My Life and later on the album she offers a melodic salve to a primary school teacher who lost her son in an accident in 2020.
“I wish I could say that being a Christian means you are afforded a life of no pain, but it says in the Bible [we] will have trouble in this world, but to take heart because [Jesus] has overcome it (John 16:33),” Taya said.
“As a Christian our response [to tragedy] should have a hopeful expectation, but it doesn’t negate the honesty of life.
“As a Christian our response [to tragedy] should have a hopeful expectation, but it doesn’t negate the honesty of life,” – Hillsong’s Taya
“I hope [this song] is a balm for her and her family.”
A sensitivity to the human experience is something Taya’s known for in her musical expression – and hearing her choke up retelling her teacher’s story won’t surprise those who have heard her speak before – but bringing that level of honesty to her songs comes at a cost.
“I watched other people write and I saw the sacrifice,” Taya said.
It contributed in part to her initial hesitancy, as she, “saw how much it cost when people are truly doing it to honour to God, and they have a revelation of who He is”.
“They’re not going to give Him their second best – He deserves my absolute best – and to get it there, perhaps I saw what that cost,” she said.
Now, Taya admires the kindness of God in the process that led to this point, saying He told her that writing it would “be like honey” in how sweet the experience would be, and the healing the songs would offer listeners.
“As [the songs] go down, perhaps, even if people aren’t aware of it at the time, they’ll heal some deep things on the inside – wounds that maybe people didn’t know needed tending to,” she said.
With over 785,000 Instagram followers, Taya’s songs will reach a lot listeners who have seen her influence climb, but she’s quick to remind them that the fame side of her role as a worship leader and songwriter is secondary to her real aim.
“The job of a worship leader is to arrest people’s attention [and then] place it on Jesus,” Taya said.
“[The fame] makes me just laugh a little bit, because I know who I am and I know who I’m not. And I know that if I don’t have the presence of God with me, if I wasn’t anointed…
“I’m just so aware of my need for Him.
“I feel like the more that I [sing and lead], the desire but also the need to be in His presence continues to increase.”
Taya’s debut solo album is out May 27.
Listen to Taya’s full conversation with Laura Bennett on the UNDISTRACTED podcast via the player above or wherever you get your podcasts.