Artist Dealing With Life Elements

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Toby Mac fedora and Tshirt"Evidently we just can't get enough of Grand Rapids," said singer-songwriter TobyMac, on the phone from near his home in Franklin, TN.

He's returning to West Michigan March 10 with his "Hits Deep" tour at Van Andel Arena (details below). That's barely a year after performing there to a sold-out crowd. Plus his visit last September during the Luis/Andres Palau CityFest. "We love us some Grand Rapids," Toby grinned.

But this time he's coming with a new album, "The Elements," released last fall. His previous project, "This Is Not A Test," came in 2015.

"From DC Talk (his former band) to now I tend to do three-year cycles," explained Toby, 54. "I need to live a bit of life and make some mistakes and see some beautiful things before I can put out a full record."

Two of its songs ("I Just Need You" and "Everything") already have scaled Christian radio charts. They are examples of the album's overall theme laden with introspection.

"I noticed I was walking out the door in the morning determined to be the man I wanted to be and feel called to be. And I was walking back in the door at night weary in my soul, heart and mind. I thought, 'There are elements pushing against me being the man I want to be.'"

It's most clearly stated in the album's title song, the latest radio single. (See song's music video – filmed in Iceland – online)


Stylistically "The Elements" covers the diverse, TobyMac spectrum of sound. Although sometimes referred to as a hip-hop artist, he's always been in the spheres of rock, pop and even funk.


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"It's soulful, but I wouldn't call it soul music," he offered. "It's music from the heart and might lean into hip-hop and guitars. You know me – hiprockfunksoul, right?"
The artist is excited about finally getting to unleash his new music on stage. At a February tour stop, seven of his 19-song set list were songs from "The Elements." Older favorites such as "Me Without You," "Eye On It" and "Lose My Soul" were also featured.

"I've always been a song crafter, not an improvisational writer," he explained. "And on tour you can put all the production with LED walls and lights and you can set up exactly how you want the songs to come across."

Toby doesn't hire a show "producer," as many larger tours do. He and his band take on the task themselves with plenty of creative input from all.

The new tour has been well received. It recently sold out two consecutive nights in Fairfax, VA at a 10,000-seat arena.


Toby is president of Gotee Records, the label home of various faith-based artists such as Aaron Cole and Ryan Stevenson, both of whom are on the Hits Deep tour.

Stevenson gushes with praise for TobyMac, whom he first admired from afar and who now is an artistic associate. "Every artist would give anything to have Toby be a part of their career and speak over their lives and music," Stevenson said from a tour stop in West Virginia. "I found out about DC Talk when I was in junior high and followed him all through school. And to be walking with my mentor figure from my life and to be kind of having me under his wing is like a dream come true."

This June Toby and his former DC Talk bandmates – Michael Tait and Kevin Max – will reprise an event they first did in 2017. It's a "Jesus Freak" cruise to Nassau/Bahamas in which the DC Talk trio will be performing its seminal hits as well as the artists' solo music.

Four of Toby's seven Grammy Awards came from his work with DC Talk.

Meanwhile, the Toby focus ultimately comes back to what he calls his life theme verse: Isaiah 43:19 --"See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness...." (NIV)

"I've written at least two songs around that single verse," said Toby.


*TobyMac & the "Hits Deep" Tour, with special guests Jeremy Camp, Jordan Feliz, Ryan Stevenson, We Are Messengers and Aaron Cole.
7pm Sunday March 10
at Van Andel Arena, W. Fulton St. Grand Rapids
Tickets start at $18 via Ticketmaster outlets, online  or 800-745-3000.
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Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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