Toby Mac is, without question, one of the biggest names in gospel music. As a part of the trio DC Talk, one of the most popular gospel acts of all time, he broke records and won four Grammys over the course of ten years. As a solo artist, he’s released six albums, won an American Music Award, two Billboard Awards, and three more Grammys. With more than 11 million in career album sales, he’s an undeniable force in the industry and he’s using his clout to cultivate new artists and produce music that matters.
This May, he heads out on tour with Skillet and LeCrae for what he says will be an “intense evening of passionate music.” We chatted with the busiest man in gospel music about what to expect from the tour and where his drive comes from.
What are you most looking forward to on this tour?
Well it’s amphitheaters mostly and I’ve always loved that atmosphere. I think my music is fitting in that atmosphere because it’s about making people feel good, making people smile and having a big party. Usually, I’m that guy on the tour, but this time, we’ve got LeCrae and Skillet as well as Capital Kings. All of this music has intensity, energy and passion and even though we come from different genres, it all feels like a big party.
Much like the diversity among the bands on the tour, you’ve worked with so many artists from different genres. How do other artists fuel your creative juices?
Getting to work with artists like Capital Kings or Jamie Grace, I go in to help them be inspired and develop their sound, but they end up inspiring me. Their passion for their art, their desire to create songs that are great and their driven nature inspires me and makes me want to be a better artist.
Watching John [Cooper] in Skillet is impressive. I love how they put their show together. It feels so theatrical to me and the thought behind their live show is very creative and inspiring.
There’s an energy that comes with LeCrae, he’s drawing more and more people to his shows and to his music and he’s on top of his game. He’s turning hip-hop upside down. It’s positive, it’s something different and it’s the look we need. Hip-hop is a great art form and I’ve always loved it since I was a kid, but I think LeCrae rounds it out very well because he’s intense, passionate and he’s positive.
You’ve won Grammys, toured the world and sold millions of albums. What are you most proud of in you career thus far?
If I had to say one thing, it’s continual collaboration. I am sort of a schizophrenic pop artist and I’m all over the place with the pop music I make. There are influences from hip-hop to reggae to rock and roll and you can hear that I love all of those genres. Choosing continually to collaborate is what I’m most proud of because I believe when a couple of minds come together, it makes family and a team. I really try hard to honor the people around me, whether it’s the band, the producers, or the co-writers. We are in the trenches together and I want to honor, enjoy and be blown away by them.
The ground-breaking, Grammy winning, double platinum dcTalk album Jesus Freak turns 20 next year. With six number one Christian music singles, one of which was also a Top 40 hit, many say it’s the album that redefined Christian music. How does it feel to be a part of a legacy like that?
It’s an honor to think that people point back to something you had something to do with. You never know what you’re doing when you’re doing it, you’re just doing the best you can. It was a special combination between myself, Kevin [Max], and Michael [Tait]. “Free at Last” was very hip-hop leaning and “Supernatural” was more pop/rock. “Jesus Freak” was when we loved hip-hop but wanted to touch rock and roll. It was a nice blend of things where it didn’t feel forced and felt very natural.
What can we look forward to next from you?
I’m writing and developing a couple artists at Gotee Records. I’m writing songs for my record that’s probably still a year out still…