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story.lead_photo.caption Hillsong Worship

Some of the biggest names in the Christian music industry will touch down in North Little Rock on Friday for a performance at Verizon Arena.

Hillsong Worship, Rend Collective and Kari Jobe headline a host of artists as part of the Outcry Tour. They are leading artists in a genre of Christian praise and worship music that has seen a dramatic growth in popularity over the last decade-plus.

Outcry Tour

6:30 p.m. Friday, Verizon Arena, North Little Rock

Tickets: $25.20-$115.30

(800) 745-3000

"We saw the change at least five years ago, where labels were more interested in us than ever before," says David Ware, a singer in the Australian group Hillsong Worship.

Hillsong began in 1983 as a worship band for a Pentecostal church in northwest Sydney with a congregation of about 45 people. Over the years, the church grew along with the band's popularity. Today, the Hillsong Church has 12 locations across Australia, along with churches in London, mainland Europe, New York and Los Angeles. Two other worship bands affiliated with the church, Hillsong Young & Free (which also will perform) and the church's most famous group, Hillsong United, tour regularly worldwide.

Ware says the band's performances and high production values have been likened to those of Coldplay and U2.

"A lot of the elements would be the same. We use lights and smoke and stages," he says. "We've got sound techs, lighting guys who really want to glorify Jesus."

Hillsong Worship uses four or five singers, along with a band including guitarists, drums, keyboards and more.

Ware compares the "quite extravagant" production to a "modern stained-glass ceiling" -- an ornate, lavish experience meant to inspire wonder and a closer relationship with God.

Hillsong United, which is signed with Capitol Records, has a movie, Hillsong: Let Hope Rise, which follows Hillsong United on tour, opening in theaters soon. The church and its groups also have their own television channel.

"With radio, things like movies ... we use it to get the name of Jesus into more homes," Ware says. "[People] no longer have to come to us."

Rend Collective is another major group in the praise and worship scene. Hailing from the Northern Ireland city of Bangor, its touring members are Gareth Gilkeson on drums, vocalists Will Herron and Chris Llewellyn, percussionist and keyboardist Ali Gilkeson, horn player and accordionist Bridget Herron and bassist Patrick Thompson.

The group recorded its debut album, Organic Family Hymnal, in 2010, mostly in churches and homes. The practice of recording live in unusual places has been a familiar one for the group, having also recorded live at a campfire and on a boat.

Kari Jobe broke through in 2009 with a number of inspirational songs co-written by artists such as Klaus Kuehn, Ed Cash and Chris Tomlin. Her second album, Where I Find You, earned a Grammy nomination in 2012. Jobe is a worship pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

The evening also will feature performances by Housefires, Urban Rescue and speaker Chad Veach.

Weekend on 08/18/2016

Print Headline: Big lineup of Christian groups to sing praises at Verizon

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