New Zealand artist Phil Joel Urry has been entertaining and inspiring audiences with his music and his activism since he came on the scene in the 1990s. Joel eventually changed his professional name to just”Phil Joel” to mitigate confusion with the pronunciation of his surname. Born in Auckland New Zealand, and adopted into an influential Christian family, Joel found himself incredibly inspired by his surroundings, by his faith and by his musical expression. Although his talents were recognized by those close to him (despite being voted least likely to succeed in High School), Joel found his way onto the music scene with an Auckland Christian band named Drinkwater, where he was the lead vocalist and played guitar. With the popularity of Drinkwater mounting, Joel gained the attention of the established Christian band The Newsboys. The Newsboys were growing in popularity and were inspired and impressed by Phil Joel’s talent. In 1994, they offered Joel a position as a bass player. Although Joel was not a bass player he took the gig and became an iconic member of the band, he eventually moved permanently from his home in New Zealand to the United States. Of his inability to play bass Joel famously stated “I already know how to play a guitar with six strings, four should be a cinch”. Being a Christian Rock band, the Newsboys participated readily in many charitable pursuits and missions. A description of one of those missions may be found here. In conjunction with The Newsboys Joel contributed to popular albums such as Take me to Your Leader (1996), Love Liberty and Disco (1999) and Thrive (2002) among others.


The Newsboys - Take me to Your Leader


Having only been in the United States for a few weeks, Joel met his wife Heather while doing an interview with The Newsboys at a radio station in Kansas City. Heather was a success in her own right, having been an accomplished host of music shows on CMT such as All Access and Hit Trip. Phil and Heather married in 1996 and soon welcomed two children named Phynley Elizabeth, who was born in the year 2000 and Philip Eden, who was born in 2004. At this time Joel found himself in a famous and successful Christian Band, with a wonderful wife. He decided that it was time to take the next step to further his career and his relationship with God.


Although Phil Joel is largely known by the general public for his success in the band The Newsboys, he is known within the Christian Rock community largely for his triumphant solo works. Phil Joel began his solo career in the year 2000 when he released an album called Watching over you with the label Inpop. This largely autobiographical work highlights Joel’s personal missions and his religious and musical pursuits. The success of this album sparked a worldwide tour called the “Strangely Normal Tour” which featured artists such as Katy Perry and LaRue. Singles from his album featured hits such as God is watching over you, Strangely Normal and Author of Life. With the single God is Watching over you reaching number 2 on the Christian music charts. The direct link to this hit song can be viewed on binged.it.


Following the success of his first solo venture Joel released his second solo album titled Bring it On also in partnership with the record label Inpop. This album featured successful singles such as I Adore You and The Man You Want me to Be which reached number 22 on the billboard Christian Music charts.


Amidst this success, Phil and his wife Heather founded deliberatePeople, a ministry that aims to help people turn their religious passions into religious pursuits. The ministry features journals written by Joel and his wife featuring a one year prayer and bible reading guide free of charge for those who visit the site. The site also includes his personal thoughts on the suggested bible verses and highlights important insight to consider while reviewing the material. Joel contributed the creation of the ministry as something that could inspire, and something that could accompany his musical missions.


With the success of his new founded ministry becoming a driving force in his life, Joel decided that it would be best to part ways with his long time record label Inpop to produce and distribute his third solo album within the deliberatePeople ministry. The title for his album is therefore fittingly named deliberatePeople and was released in 2005 by the ministry. The album received enthusiastic praise, as critics felt as though the album was more of a throwback to the Christian Rock of the 1960s and the 1970s. It was stripped down; raw and showcased Joel’s many musical talents. This album featured the hit single Changed which contributed greatly to the albums success. Although this album did not chart as his previous albums did, this effort was greatly successful and was a powerful vehicle to encourage people to join his new ministry. In fact, shortly after the success of deliberatePeople Joel and his wife began work on a child’s album named deliberateKids which was created with the intention to influence and strengthen a child’s relationship with God. This album was released in 2007 and was such a success that it inspired a follow up album named deliberateKids 2 which was released in 2010.


With the great success of his solo ventures and his growing ministry, Phil Joel officially left The Newsboys in 2006. In interviews Joel stated that the reason for his departure was to spend more time with his family and to develop his personal pursuits. Although The Newsboys and their fans were not excited to see Phil leave, the departure was not a sad one as the audiences knew they would see more music from Phil Joel in the future, and his band mates knew that Joel would be happier fulfilling his own personal goals.


After his departure from The Newsboys, Joel released his solo album The New Normal in 2008, also in conjunction with his ministry deliberatePeople. Although he did not officially release any singles off of this album it too was a great commercial success, and furthered his mission and hi religious message.


Along with pursuing his own personal missions, Joel became increasing involved with the sometimes controversial “Focus on Family” organization. Focus on Family is a Christian organization that focuses on nurturing the idea of a Christian family and a Christian approach to child rearing. In conjunction with this organization, Joel created the Family Fight Night Tour which promoted the ideas of Focus on Family and supported the organization, both financially and by helping the organization gain new members.


As his own personal ministry grew, Joel began to realize that worldwide ministry opportunities were available and accessible. Joel began to consider his role in this worldwide ministry and how he can further his mission to spread his Christian beliefs and the word of God. Throughout his career Joel had always inspired religious conviction through his music. Therefore he considered music to be the most viable option to further his ministry and his mission. In 2012, Joel assembled a group of Christian musicians named Ben Bugna and Ben Garrett, who were administering their own worldwide Christian ministries. Together they formed a Franklin Tennessee based band named Zealand Worship. Shortly after their formation the band was signed by the label “Word Entertainment” a division of the infamous “Curb Records” in 2015. In conjunction with their new label they released an EP entitled Zealand Worship- the EP and the effort was welcomed by rave reviews, earning a 10/10 star rating by Christian Publication Christ Core and a 4.5/5 review from The Christian Beat. All critics agreed that the records passion and message truly set it apart from other related musical acts. Joshua Andres from Inspiring Media even stated that the records only downfall was that it was not longer.


To follow up Zealand Worship announced that they were releasing their first full length album Named Liberated on February 9, 2018. For more information regarding the album you may visit the bands official website.


Amidst this exciting news it can be assumed that the musical and religious journey is far from over for Phil Joel, and that we can look forward to more musical successes in the future. Although this is not the official website of Phil Joel we hope that it will provide you some valuable information and insight into the successful career of this amazing talent.