Newport is a musical collective birthed out of the worship ministry of Newport Church, a daughter church of Australia's Hillsong Church. Based in the heart of Orange County and led by Pastors Jonathan and Dianne Wilson, the members of Newport Church's worship team have taken the values and experiences they've learned while planting their church and crafted a debut that is unique to who they are as a congregation on the coast of Southern California. In a similar vein toHillsong UNITED and Elevation Worship, Newport's songs hinge on artistic nuances, thoughtfully crafted lyrics and pop-heavy hooks, creating an immersive, engaging live experience. Newport's bright, vibrant sound distinctly mimics mainstream musical trends versus what's standard in modern praise and worship-uniquely carving its own path in today's worship space.
Hallels: Growing up in Hillsong Church as a child, I still vaguely remember Pastor Brian Houston talking about sending off Pastor Jonathan Wilson to start off Newport Church. Are you guys still in constant contact with Hillsong? And how much has the music of Hillsong, UNITED and Darlene Zschech influenced your own music?
Yes we definitely stay in touch with friends from Hillsong. Personally I made a lot of amazing while at hillsong bible college and so have made an effort over the years to stay connected.I would say the music has definitely impacted me over the years, but its mostly the people who are behind the music that have impacted me the most. I think we are supposed to live lives that inspire others and help lift those around us to a greater heights and the friendships I have made along the way have definitely lifted me higher throughout the years.
Hallels: Graham, when did you come on staff as Newport's worship pastor?
I believe it was May of 2009 that I officially came on staff at Newport church. I had been leading the worship teams since we started in July of 2006, but was just working other jobs at that time. I actually worked at a ski shop for the first number of years and taught music a bit as well.
Hallels: And how did you end up with a record deal and the release of "Paradise"?
A friend of ours from Hillsong, Tim Whincop, had spoken with the marketing director over at Sony Provident and had suggested they check out our music. So the label got in touch with us and we started to talk through what that relationship might look like and decided that it seemed to be a great fit for both us and Provident. Paradise is the first album we have done in partnership with Provident.
Hallels: Of all the church worship teams and music out there, what do you think sets Newport Worship apart?
I think one thing could be maybe the style of music we use to express our worship. We love to have a bit of a party in church and so our music reflects that passion to celebrate what Jesus has done for us. The Gospel means "good news", and we want our music to convey that. The church has a lot to celebrate and be thankful for and I think that should come across in our music.One of the other aspects of our team that could be a distinctive is that no one besides myself is on staff to do this. Everyone is a volunteer and is just passionate about building church and seeing those who are broken find Jesus.
Hallels: Let's talk about the single "Echo." For our readers who may not heard it yet, what's the song about?
I would say there are two main goals we were wanting to achieve with Echo. The first thing we really set out to do when we started writing it was just to write a new song that would create a real sense of celebration and energy in our services at Newport Church. We were wanting to get people dancing and singing along. Pretty simple really.The lyrics are like a journey from being lost or distant to God, to discovering the amazing power, goodness and grace that's found in Jesus. Then in the chorus it talks about what a joy it is to live in the glow of God's paradise, basically referring to being in a living and authentic relationship with Jesus, and as a result of that we should be echoing His heartbeat. Which is basically to say, we are called to be the light in this world. We are called to reflect the heartbeat of Christ so that when people see our lives they see Jesus.
Hallels: If you were to pick three things you are proudest of about this new record, what would they be? And why?
That's a tough question haha. There are so many things I am proud of and thankful for.I suppose one of the things I am the most proud of about this album is just the great team effort that takes place to pull this whole project together. I love what can be accomplished when a bunch of people who are passionate about Jesus aim their lives at one goal together. As an individual I can only accomplish so much but as a team of people we can accomplish great things together. This project is definitely a team effort.One of the other things I am proud of and thankful for is our senior pastors Jonathan and Dianne Wilson. They have built a church where we are given freedom to express our creativity and art through music. They have been so trusting and open handed with this whole project, and that takes real courage and strength as a leader to release your team to run with a project like this. This album couldn't exist without their leadership. On a more practical side, I am really proud of just the quality of this project compared to some others we have worked on in years past. The level of songwriting, the engineering, the mixing, and the creativity from the team has really gone to a new level on this project. It just plain old sounds a lot better than the other ones. And I am pretty happy about that!
Hallels: For our readers who may want to purchase your new album or/and find out more about you, where can they go?
The album, and the single Echo, are all available on iTunes, Amazon, Google play, Spotify etc. Basically anywhere you can find music, you can find our music! We have a youtube channel Newport Worship as well.Just as a sidenote for people who are searching for us, the 'artist' name is "Newport" but all of our social media handles are @newportworship. That's basically only because "@newport" wasn't available across all social media platforms haha. People can also check out our website www.newportworship.com or our church website at www.newportchurch.com for more info.
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