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It’s been two years since the release of Hillsong UNITED’s Empires, but it hasn’t really seemed like it. They’ve been everywhere: The Today Show, K-Love, GRAMMY and Dove Awards, all over the charts (radio, sales…all of the time), leading worship at the LA Forum, headlining OUTCRY, and gracing the silver screen with Let Hope Rise, to name a very short-list.

With all of the Empires dust still being kicked up, there’s no time to record and release a studio album of entirely new material, right? Wrong. In addition to Wonder dropping a mere 25-months later, this release may very well be the band’s Sgt. Pepper’s to its own Revolver (or Abbey Road, or The White Album, which ever No. 2 you prefer). Beyond the merits of their own discography, we’re willing to bet that this body of work may serve as the soundtrack to an awakening of a renewed God-perspective on a global level.

From the initial vibrant notes of “Wonder” to the choral outro on “Rain / Reign,” the album has the feel of an encyclopedic work, yet opens an extremely wide and accessible door for listeners to feel safe and free in exploring the God of the universe they may forgotten, or perhaps, never knew? “What’s the story of Jesus?” as you’ll read the bands members have asked themselves.

“So, it’s an evangelistic worship record?” Try not to think in such complicated terms—so, is it time for us all to take a big step back? Perhaps we need an album like Wonder in such confusing times as these? Have we found ourselves standing on earth and asking, “Could this get any worse?” Maybe it’s completely okay to be left with more questions than answers, leading our hearts to more seeking than settling?

We certainly had many questions to ask the majority front man-and-“gal” (as she humbly calls herself) of Hillsong UNITED, Joel Houston and Taya Smith, in this CCM Magazine cover interview.

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About The Author

Kevin Sparkman
Managing Editor

After both on-stage and front-office experience in the Christian recording industry, (including co-founding Exit 3 Entertainment, Inc. and General Manager of hip-hop label Beatmart Recordings), Sparkman returned to Salem in 2014 from a Dir. of Communications position in the United Methodist Church. He became the Managing Editor of CCM Magazine in January 2015.

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