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Canadian band Starfield, now recording out of Nashville, performed more than 300 times during 2004, including the In The Name of Love: Artists United for Africa tour, in support of the album of the same name. The album and tour were a benefit to raise funds addressing the AIDS pandemic on the African continent. Now they are in the midst of a rigorous tour during the winter months. There are stops in Indiana, Kansas, Texas, North Carolina, Alabama, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Canada.
Although Starfield has been together for several years it was only last fall that they really burst onto the American music scene in a big way with the release of their Sparrow Records self-titled debut album. The song “Revolution” with a powerful rock beat and pop worship tune “Filled With Your Glory” are easily the best tracks on the album. The CD demonstrates the band's ability to make the easy transition from worship music to praise with a little bit of edge.
“Filled With Your Glory,” an upbeat pop worship tune, highlights the strong vocals of lead singer Tim Neufeld and has the stamp of producer Matt Bronleewe (Rebecca St James, Natalie Imbruglia, Jars of Clay).
Starfield is are already attracting the attention of many well established artists.
“I just spent a couple of weeks on the road with the Starfield boys and I am a fan. I already knew that their music was good, but their hearts for God and His people stood out the most. Their attitude toward ministry was refreshing”, says Chris Tomlin.
The band is on the verge of being named in the same breath as Delirious and Sonic Flood for the style and quality of their music.
Starfield was formed by brothers Tim and Jon Neufeld. The foursome also includes drummer John Andrews and bassist Shaun Huberts. The Neufelds collaborate on writing the lyrics and music. Starfield previously released two CDs as independent artists.
Last year the band recorded a cover of the U2 song "40" on the compilation album In The Name of Love: Artists United For Africa. Jon and Tim said Starfield is heavily influenced by other Christian artists such as Chris Tomlin and the David Crowder Band. Tim also listed U2 and Our Lady Peace as more mainstream bands that he listens to.
In speaking with the brothers they make very clear their intent is to write songs that can be used in an atmosphere of praise and worship. “As far as our perspective on what we're doing it really hasn't changed. It's kind of progressed and evolved a little bit but we still feel we're here to serve the church. Even in a bigger way, we are here to write for the church.”, Tim said in commenting on whether their record deal had altered their approach to music.
Jon added, “We have a new vision now. We feel really affirmed. We feel called as a band to servanthood.”
Jon noted, “We want to write worship songs, church friendly. Not the whole record necessarily but a good portion of it should be able to transform into a congregational song that you can sing on Sunday morning in a worship. We want to write stuff that we are going to be proud of.”
How have they handled the grind of touring? In 2004 alone they played at over 300 events. “It's not like people think it is. There's a romantic side but it gets worn off very soon.”, Tim said. They talked about the long drives and flights. How on any given day the majority of waking hours may be spent travelling. The novelty of hotels and airplanes has worn off. “I'm being a good steward of my frequent flyer points.”, Tim joked.
There are also the personal challenges. Jon spoke about the group of friends he has in Winnipeg that he is accountable to. He said it helps him to stay focused on what's important spiritually and provides balance. Tim has been married less than one year. His wife Carla now acts as their road manager.
“It's sometimes hard to separate the roles of road manager and wife and just goofing off or being serious. It's a pretty crazy life but it's one that God has given us grace to live.”
So how have the Neufelds adjusted to life in Nashville? "It's kind of intimidating at first. Like when we went to our first Gospel Music Association event. It's also a time when they showcase new artists and the new stuff is all glammed out for the different labels. There's a lot of different artists there. It's really cool. There's a real camaraderie that happens and they accept you into the fold. To have people come up to you and tell you we're glad you made it. We're really happy for you. We like your CD. It's always cool and gives us such a different perspective when one of our heroes comes and says things like that”, says Tim.
One big challenge the group has learned to face is the rising expectations. Prior to their record deal they were compared to other independent Christian artists. Now they find themselves being measured up to established artists like Steven Curtis Chapman. They have learned to roll with the good and bad reviews. "It's just one person's opinion.", Tim said. "Our confidence is in Christ. It comes back to the perspective of understanding why we're doing what we are doing. Like Jon said it's not for the money. It's not for the fame."
Feature and photo by Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
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