Above: Taya Smith, JD and Jad Gillies perform a unique Jessie J Flashlight mashup.
Hillsong United proved their musical talent and their passion for true worship today, when they created an impromptu Jessie Jay-style worship song on Sydney’s Christian radio station Hope 103.2.
The improvised musical mashup was part of a live chat with the radio station’s breakfast hosts Dan Widdowson and Dwayne Jeffries.
After an interview about the band’s recent success, Dan and Dwayne challenged them to write and perform a version of Darlene Zschech’s classic worship Shout To The Lord, with a twist: it had to be the style of Jessie Jay’s hit song Flashlight.
Singer Taya Smith and guitarist Jad Gillies rose to the challenge, coming up with an impressive version of the song in just 15 minutes.
They performed it flawlessly, creating a new tune that was arguably a new worship song in its own right.
Watch: Shout To The Lord, to the tune of Jessie J’s hit song Flashlight
They also played an acoustic version of their hit worship song Touch The Sky, with singer Jonathan Douglas (better known as JD) providing harmonies.
The song comes from the band’s latest worship album, Empires, a collection of tunes exploring the collision between a broken world, and the goodness of Jesus.
Watch: Hillsong United’s acoustic performance of Touch The Sky
They Just Want To Worship God
In their interview, the band brushed aside questions about album sales and media coverage, saying their goal was simply to create worship music that reflected their walk with Jesus.
“It’s always the same for us, we’re part of a church and we write songs out of our personal revelation and journey of following Christ,” JD said.
“And we hope to encourage other people on that journey.
“We just want to reach as many people as possible.”
Taya said that one of the encouraging parts of writing an album was hearing feedback from people who have been touched by their songs.
“We get to hear stories on social media where people may have been super-impacted by a certain song, and that’s the biggest encouragement,” she said, “because we just want people to hopefully encounter Jesus through this music or be encouraged in whatever situation they’re facing.
“That’s what we set out to do [with our music]. We hope that God breathes on it and that people would be encouraged.”
Advice For Budding Christian Musicians
When asked what advice she would give to young Christians hoping to make it in the music industry, Taya offered the following:
“I think whether you’re in the Christian music world or the secular music world, and you’re a Christian, hopefully your relationship with God would be the thing that would stay constant.
“I feel that if you have a personal revelation of Jesus and it’s walk with Him every day, read your Bible and pray every day, and do it connected to your local church, and stay connected and accountable to your leaders and do life with people, those things are going to keep you in line and you’re not going to get a big head.
“I’d encourage people to get around people who are little bit older and a bit further along in the journey than them and learn from how they do life.”
She said staying accountable to her fellow band members had kept her feet firmly on the ground.
“This has been a pretty crazy journey for us over the last two years, where United has gone and the doors that have opened, it’s been crazy and a blessing – and maybe sometimes it can seem a little too much, because it’s quite a big thing when you play for thousands of people.
“I never thought that I would be doing that kind of stuff. But I have these guys that are like my brothers and if I ever thought too highly of myself, they’d keep me in line.”
JD’s Unusual Childhood Dream
Listeners learnt a new United fun-fact when JD was asked about his childhood dreams.
“To be honest my first ever dream was to be a dentist,” he said, laughing.
“But I’ve been blessed to grow up in a Christian home and I’ve been going to Hillsong Church since I was four years old, and the journey of coming through the Sunday School, the youth ministry and finding my identity and confidence and acceptance through Christ inside that environment, has contributed so much to who I am today.
“All I’ve ever really wanted to do (once I got over the dentist thing) is to contribute back into that environment to help other people, whatever stage of life they’re at. So my dream really, was to build the church. And that’s what I’m doing with my life and want to continue doing while I have an opportunity to.”
The Rise And Rise Of United
Media attention: United rehearse on the set of USA’s The Today Show
UNITED is a worship band that was born out of the youth ministry of Hillsong Church in Sydney. It released its first album in 1999, and it has toured six continents and more than 40 nations since 2006.
Their 2013 album Zion contained the single “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” which topped the USA’s Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart.
In 2014, UNITED received five Gospel Music Assocation Dove Awards including Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for “Oceans.”
This year the band has come under the spotlight on the USA’s Today Show, Australia’s The Morning Show, and in a feature film titled Hillsong – Let Hope Rise, chronicling the band’s journey to fame.