Ever since I posted a revamped Hillsong United countdown, some of the most popular Google searches leading to my blog go like this:
who sings oceans hillsong
what girl sings oceans hillsong united
who is the lady singer oceans hillsong
So, to answer the question that myriads have been asking the Internet: her name is Taya Smith.
She is known around the world as the girl who sings the Hillsong United mega-hit, “Oceans.” The song recently made history by becoming Billboard’s first “Hot Christian” song to break into the more encompassing, more illustrious Hot 100.
It’s become one of my favorite songs of all-time, Hillsong-inspired or otherwise. Indeed, “Oceans” has exploded around the world. And yet people still wonder:
Who’s the girl who sings it?
The first time I heard “Oceans,” I thought she was Brooke Fraser (“Hosanna,” “Lead Me to the Cross”). Indeed, I spent a solid month in ignorance of the singer’s true identity.
As far as I know, Taya Smith was never on a previous Hillsong album before debuting with Zion‘s “Oceans.” She has since gone on to sing several tracks for Hillsong Young & Free’s “Kidz Bop”-esque album, We Are Young & Free.
I’ve watched several interviews with Taya Smith, and she’s such an obvious introvert. In watching her short answers and shy demeanor, I can’t help wondering what she really feels about all this “Oceans” insanity.
I’m sure one part of her is blessed and overwhelmed by the success of the song. People just love it so much.
And yet with the “good kind” of overwhelmed undoubtedly comes the “other kind.” I’ve often wondered what it’s like for pop artists or, in this case, worship leaders to sing the same song over and over and over for audiences and worshipers around the world. How do you maintain the same energy and passion, night in and night out?
On the one hand, Taya Smith has inspired millions with her ethereal voice.
On the other, this has become her immutable legacy: the girl who sings “Oceans.”
As I continue writing and stepping beyond publication, I wonder how I will be known someday. Will I be known as the one who wrote Struggle Central? Will I be the messy guy? The gay Christian? The tad too vulnerable writer?
What will be my legacy? How will people grow to identify me — as a writer, as a Christian, or as something else entirely?
Of course, I long for success as a writer. But success is scary. Success terrifies me.
I’d love to impact millions, sure. What writer wouldn’t? I want my life to matter to others, be it as a writer or simply a struggling human.
Despite some recent gains and victories, I’ve been more used to failure and struggle; popularity and success still seem like such foreign concepts. I know how easily I can get overwhelmed; without solid people in my life, mammoth success could quite easily cripple me.
I’ve often wondered what people might Google about me someday:
who wrote struggle central
struggle central tmz author
yellow fish with a hobo stick writer guy
Whether I ever hit the New York Times bestsellers or ride long into Amazon ambiguity, I want my life to point Upward. I’m assuming Taya Smith is looking at her own life the same way.
Who cares if many people still don’t know who she is? “Oceans” is bringing people closer to Jesus. That’s a legacy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve parked my car after a long day and leaned my seat back and closed my eyes and let the opening cello carry me to heaven.
“Oceans” — what a legacy, indeed.
Thank you, Hillsong United; thank you, Taya Smith.
Have you listened to “Oceans”? Did you know who sung it before reading this post? What’s your favorite Hillsong United song?