In 2006, Pastor Jonathan and Diane Wilson hand-picked Newport Beach as the site for a new church plant. Following 28 years on the Hillsong Church staff, Wilson and his wife brought a team over from Australia to help launch what is now Newport Church, a vibrant congregation of believers in the heart of Orange County, CA. Since opening its doors eight years ago, Newport’s worship team has organically evolved into a songwriting collective, and the original songs the band’s written to lead their congregation in worship have culminated in the group’s first national full-length release.
Newport is made up of the worship team’s primary leadership—including Graham Bronczyk, Alicia Simila and Jamin Steel—who serve as principal songwriters, backed by a rotating group of key individuals closely linked with Newport’s worship ministry. From the way they collectively approach songwriting to the way they exchange lead vocals, Newport is the epitome of community. “Worship is hugely integral to who we are, and I think the songs that come out of the House really express the spirit of the House,” Wilson says.
When the church was initially established, however, none of Newport’s members were seasoned songwriters. They cut their teeth simply by serving. “[From] the very beginning, we just had a goal to write songs out of the expression of our local church and to give voice to what we felt like God was doing,” Bronczyk explains.
“We very much wanted our church to be a place were people could connect with God in a meaningful way,” Wilson adds. “That’s always been far more important to us than just writing great songs; and because of that, I feel that the songs have just gotten better.”
The members of Newport write with an intent to keep their artistry not only relevant but pure. “We’re constantly trying to say something new and fresh using words and common vernacular that will really connect with people [while] also being artistic,” Simila offers. “We want to write songs that lead people into the presence of God.”
At the heart of Newport Church’s vision lies a three-fold mission: connecting people to Christ, connecting people to life-giving relationships and connecting people to their God-given purpose and destiny. This objective, anchored in community, is the heartbeat behind the songs Newport chose to record for their debut.
The majority of Newport’s members grew up immersed in mainstream pop music—a sound that inevitably influences the bright production sensibilities explored on the group’s first effort, which hinges on thoughtfully crafted lyrics and pop-heavy hooks.
Lead single “Echo” is one of the album’s most pop-centric tracks and reveals the ripple effect felt across God’s arching narrative. “It’s this idea of God calling out to the furthest hearts,” Bronczyk shares. “The chorus is basically what happens when you’ve had an encounter with Christ… You then are the light of the world [and] you echo the heartbeat of God.” The original version of “Echo” is drastically different from the final cut on the album—a testament to the band’s hard work ethic and relentless pursuit of excellence as they revisit songs to ensure that each one is God-breathed.
Other songs like “Every Way,” written with Mia Fieldes in only four hours, affirm God’s unwavering goodness. While cuts like “Live to Know You” mirror the cries of a desperate heart, birthed from a songwriting session that found Bronczyk putting pen to paper in a moment of frustration.
Discovering new inspiration every time they lead people in worship, Newport’s debut is only the beginning. It’s a mission the members hope continues to grow as their church evolves and as they journey deeper into the heart and mind of Christ—an adventure best embarked on together. “This is a group effort,” Bronczyk affirms. “There’s no divas. There are no superstars here. We’re all just normal [people], but together as a team, we can do some cool stuff.”