'Church songs are the ultimate pop music' - Brooke Fraser

Brooke Fraser winning her Grammy Award.
Brooke Fraser winning her Grammy Award. Photo credit: Getty

After 15 years of songwriting success, Brooke Fraser has won a Grammy - but not as Brooke Fraser.

The Kiwi singer was awarded Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for 'What A Beautiful Name', which she wrote and performed for worship group Hillsong.

When Newshub spoke to her she'd just returned from the ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York City, which was "wonderful but a little bit chilly".

Her favourite performances were by Kesha and the "unbelievable" Kendrick Lamar, as well as Emmylou Harris and Chris Stapleton's tribute to Tom Petty.

She's disappointed that Lorde missed out on Album of the Year, whom she "stood and cheered for" when the nominations were read out.

"But I think it's such a thrill to be nominated. Whether you win or lose, to be nominated for a Grammy is such an amazing acknowledgement of your work, and obviously all New Zealanders are so proud of her and everything she's accomplished."

She counts herself as one of Lorde's biggest fans.

"I love her to death."

This year's ceremony followed in the footsteps of the highly politicised Golden Globes a few weeks ago, with many musicians voicing their support for the movement against sexual harassment and abuse.

Every member of Fraser's Grammys party wore either a 'Time's Up' badge or a white rose to show solidarity.

"I think it's a conversation that's been long overdue," says Fraser.

"Myself and all of Hillsong Worship that I'm representing tonight are all about equality and safety in the workplace for women and all people. Obviously that's a cause we can get behind."

Fraser is part of the 'core leadership team' for the Los Angeles branch of Hillsong Worship, and performs for the group under her married name, Brooke Ligertwood.

She's been writing worship songs alongside her more mainstream hits since 2005.

While much of the music she has released under the name Brooke Fraser contains Christian themes and imagery, her work with Hillsong allows her to fully express her faith.

"In some ways church songs are the ultimate pop music," she says.

"Pop music is music that everyone can connect to and get on board with, and that's really the same with worship music. Ideally, it's music that you can come in to a church and sing, whether you're a mechanic or a singer or a doctor or a stay-at-home mum, that you would find a connection point in those lyrics which uplifts you, connects you to God and helps you on your own journey."

It was "a crazy deal and a great honour" to win a Grammy for a song she and fellow songwriter Ben Fielding originally hoped might help members of Hillsong's congregation.

Even being nominated was surreal, she says.

"It was genuinely something that had never occurred to me as a possibility."

'What A Beautiful Name' has more than 100 million views on YouTube, a fact Fraser was charmingly unaware of until midway through the interview.

"I don't regularly watch myself. I think that would be a bit weird."

She admits it's a "thrill" to know that a staggering number of people have heard her song.

"Tonight there was a beautiful tribute to the victims of the violence in Manchester and Las Vegas, which were obviously music events. We heard an amazing story about the song being played at one of those victim's funeral services."

As a New Zealand artist, it's especially powerful to see her creation having a global impact, she says.

"I think it's the greatest privilege as a songwriter to know that a song you've been involved with can bring any kind of comfort and hope to people.

"Honestly, I just feel honoured to be a part of it all. I'm just a girl from Lower Hutt, you know?"