Hillsong United began as the youth ministry band of Sydney, Australia's Hillsong Church. Originally dubbed United Live, the group was first led by singers/songwriters Reuben Morgan and Marty Sampson. Their 1999 debut, Everyday, established their creative template: each album was recorded live at the annual October youth conference Encounterfest -- enabling contributions from a variety of church members, friends, and supporters, including the popular Christian folk chanteuse Brooke Fraser -- and released on CD and DVD early the following year. When Morgan left United Live in 2002 to mount a solo career, Joel Houston took his place, prompting the name change to Hillsong United.
In the years to follow their popularity snowballed on both sides of the equator, with 2006's United We Stand emerging as the year's best-selling Christian LP at Canadian retail. All of the Above found similar success in 2007, as did 2009's a_CROSS//the_EARTH: Tear Down the Walls and its accompanying live album, Faith + Hope + Love. The CD/DVD set We're All in This Together showed up in 2011, with the double-disc Live in Miami: Welcome to the Aftermath arriving a year later.
In 2013, the group released Zion, their third studio album proper. It became their first Australian number one, and also hit the Top Five of the Billboard 200 in the U.S. Organic versions of the album's songs landed on the EP Zion Acoustic Sessions later that year, while 2014 saw the group offer something more dancefloor-oriented with The White Album: Remix Project. The year 2015 brought the full-length Empires, which returned them to the number one spot at home. The live LP Of Dirt and Grace: Live from the Land followed in 2016. ~ Jason Ankeny & Steve Leggett