Bella Taylor Smith, a member of Hillsong Church, recently won season 10 of the Australian version of The Voice.
The 23-year-old singer and music teacher won after performing Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer” alongside her coach Guy Sebastian. She also sang and released her first single, “Higher.”
Smith thanked her family, friends and church community for their support, “and honestly and most importantly to Jesus for giving me hope and a beautiful life to live” in a Facebook post the night before the finale.
“I really can’t believe it,” Smith said after her win. “I can’t wait to see what incredible things are ahead for me. I’m really grateful for [Sebastian], for everyone who voted and for my beautiful family, whom I love.”
Smith’s affiliation with the international megachurch caused a bit of controversy online following her win. Some social media users speculated the show was rigged in Smith’s favor due to her connection with Hillsong Church, which has a strong presence in the country. But the singer’s fans came to her defense after her win.
“There is nothing wrong with having faith,” one supported wrote. “I don’t recall Hillsong being mentioned during the finals and, even if it was, so what? Bella wowed everyone with her voice and she gave thanks to the one who ultimately graved her with the gift.”
Although not an official member of Hillsong Church’s musical groups, Smith has sung and performed at the church before, including a breathtaking rendition for the Hillsong Christmas Spectacular of How Great Thou Art.