With a recording history spanning more than 30 years, 20 million career album sales, and music sung by an estimated 50 million people worldwide each week, Hillsong Worship has cemented their place in the worship music genre.
Recently, Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong Worship spoke with us about their new album, Awake, the first studio project after almost 20 years of chart-topping live albums.
Hillsong Worship’s mission is focused beyond ephemeral trends. Coming off of a 2018 Grammy win for their song “What A Beautiful Name,” which Brooke co-wrote, the accolade was appreciated, but it’s clear the award has not swayed Hillsong’s collective goal.
“We’re kind of pretty focused on what we feel called to do, which is to make the best art possible to give God the most glory possible.”
The return to the studio was a deliberate decision that brought a chance to mix things up for Hillsong Worship. Brooke thinks their next record will be live again, but this project offered them a chance to reevaluate who they are.
“I think there’s something to be said for doing something different for the sake of doing something different. We’ve done things one way for a long time and we will go back – whenever our next record is after this – it will be a live record again. It felt like a good time to take the project and go, okay, who are we as Hillsong Worship and what do we sound like? If you take it out of that live context, what’s a way we can articulate who we are as a church community? It was kind of a grand experiment.”
The experiment worked, as the single “King of Kings,” which was released earlier this summer, is still climbing the charts. Awake is not just a polished studio offering, it’s a group of people genuinely worshipping.
“We left a lot of talk-back mics on in the room, so at the ends and the beginnings of some songs you can hear people kind of moving around like you would if you were in a church service or in a room with other people worshipping.”
The album follows the prophetic declaration, “revival is in the air,” made early in 2019 by the senior pastors of Hillsong Church, Brian and Bobbie Houston. When fellow recording artists Hillsong United released an album called People, Brooke felt their own album was falling in perfect line with what their pastors had decreed.
“What is revival if it’s not ‘people awake’? Revivals have always started with prayer. They’ve always started with unity and prayer, and worship has been hallmarks of great moves of God in our history as well. And so, we’re really determined to be a revival people – not to rest on our laurels and think that we kind of have it all together – [but to] get into that comfortable spot that we’re constantly listening to and being attentive to what God is saying.”
As the process of assembling the project began, team members presented songs that had a unifying theme before the album’s title had been decided upon.
“It’s not like we sit down and have a strategy meeting and go, ‘this is what the album is called, and this is what it’s about, so everyone go write.’ It was the opposite.”
Soon, the pieces began to fit together to become one concerted effort, but Brooke is quick to shift the spotlight off of both her and the team.
“We were seeing different chapters of the same story through the songs. That’s a God thing, and that’s why I love this. We’re not clever enough to pull this kind of thing off. We really are just trying to listen to God.”
In just a few weeks, Hillsong Worship will be co-headlining a nearly month-long arena tour with Casting Crowns, along with Elevation Worship. Brooke is looking forward to the venture, but with only one qualm – bringing along her children who are 2 and 4 years old. Brooke admits (with a chuckle) that the rambunctious younger girl will keep her on her toes, but tells me she will have plenty of help.
So, what’s next for Brooke and Hillsong Worship? Awake will keep them busy through the end of the year, but she’s looking forward to a return to normal church life leading up to Christmas, and a merited break before the new year.
“I’m really excited for this record to come out. It was a doozy to make, and hopefully you can hear all the love and labor and sacrifice that went into it.”
But her favorite part of this whole adventure? It’s seeing how God is going to use Awake in people’s lives.
“I’m just excited for those stories to start to come in, ‘cause God’s plans are always so much better and more amazing than ours.”