When Stars Go Dim frontman Chris Cleveland found out his bandmate’s flight from Michigan was canceled and would cause him to miss the impending birth of his first son, there were no questions asked. The four-piece piled into a rental car and drove cross-country for 12 hours, making it with minutes to spare so Josh Roach could welcome Zedekiah Aric James into the world.
“We were driving, and just kind of came to the conclusion that, yeah this is how we were supposed to do it anyways,” Cleveland says. “We started calling it his Dadchelor’s party. You know, just four brothers in the car rolling and doing what we had to do … I think anytime you connect on that level, it’s so much more than music, it’s so much more than anything else.”
The image of the Tulsa,Oklahoma-based band leaving the opening stages of The Winter Jam Tour Spectacular — in many ways their golden ticket to success in the CCM industry — to make sure a single member could witness the birth of his child defines these newcomers.
On the surface, Stars Go Dim has all the components typical of your modern worship band. Comprised of four worship leaders, Kyle Williams, Josh Roach, Michael Cleveland, and Chris Cleveland are the new kids on the block. While they have been together since 2007, the phenomenal success of their recent single “You Are Loved” has put them on the map, peaking at No. 2 on CHR and making the Top 10 on AC Indicator.
“It was one of the songs that I liked, but I had no idea the impact that it was going to have with people,” shares Chris Cleveland. “People need to know they have a purpose … there is a plan for them and that God has chosen them and set them apart — that they are not a byproduct, that they are not worthless. I think we need hope and we need that message. So it’s been really encouraging to hear the stories from across the globe of people [who] this song has impacted in a positive way.”
Stars Go Dim is certainly more than a flash in the pan. The group’s self-titled album is a balanced blend of worship tunes with catchy pop hooks and radio-friendly beats. It’s just enough to keep from being pigeonholed as just another worship band.
“I really feel like musically we’ve done something that this genre hasn’t heard before,” says Cleveland. “I think we’re bringing a mix of modern pop and soul and these organic elements together that hasn’t been done before. Then I think lyrically and thematically we’re kind of telling our story.”
Cleveland emphasizes his point by referencing the opening track, “Doxology,” which is a remake of a classic hymn. “We wanted to … present it in a way that our generation could worship and sing to,” Cleveland explains.
He quickly journeys through the album, finishing by explaining the significance of the final track, “Here”: “I finished the record with that song really intentionally because I wanted people to know as they finish going through this, and as they finish listening to the record, that whatever they’re going through in life [and] wherever they are, even when it doesn’t make sense and even if they don’t feel God, that He’s still there with them.”
Aside from being a band of brothers (literally for Chris and Michael), they are fearlessly authentic.
“People need to know they have a purpose … there is a plan for them and that God has chosen them and set them apart.”
Whether it is their relatively new status as a band or Cleveland’s genuine humbleness, I soon catch the zeal this band has for serving God through music.
“God is going to work in whatever way he chooses to. For some reason he has chosen this song [“You Are Loved”] for this time in my life and I’m humbled to be a part of it. It’s just a great experience,” Cleveland says.
“I think it’s just one of those incredible things, just seeing how God is using the music and being able to spread it across the globe … I’ve talked to people in South Africa and Australia, and here in the States. It just blows my mind every time. It’s really humbling.”
The quality of this group is probably best shown by the fact it is currently on the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular with Grammy-winning bands like for KING & COUNTRY and Skillet. Playing to over 600,000 fans as Stars Go Dim tours across America, Cleveland is audibly energized by the experience.
“We’re going out for our short time and playing our songs and doing that thing — and it’s awesome,” Cleveland says. “But being able to connect with the people, artists and fans, on that level is really the most rewarding part of this whole thing.”
While Stars Go Dim is on an escalator to success, the members’ understanding of the purpose behind the music is what makes them different. Just as they journeyed across the country for one another earlier this month, they will continue to go to the same lengths for their friendship in the years to come.
“The music and stuff is awesome, but those moments — family and babies, those are the things that life is all about,” Cleveland says. “There was no option but for us to get in and drive. It was an awesome experience and one that I think each of us will carry with us for a long time.”
This interview was published by Vital Magazine on January 21, 2016. You can read it here.