“Yesterday I missed you, Yesterday I played your song,” Christian hip-hop recording artist TobyMac sings in his song “Scars.”
As noted on TobyMac’s official website, this is one of his favorite and most personal songs from The Elements, his latest solo album. TobyMac’s first-born son, Truett Foster McKeehan, inspired “Scars.”
“It’s about watching him go through tough times and get cut and bruised,” TobyMac shared with Digital Journal. “Watching people you love go through hard things is tough, and I want people to know that they are not alone.”
On Oct. 23, McKeehan unexpectedly passed away in the family’s home.
Following his son’s death, TobyMac published an emotional Facebook post. He shared that his last moment with his son, who was also a musician, was at McKeehan’s first show Oct. 17 at The Factory in Franklin, Tenn.
“As I stood in the audience and watched my son bring joy to a room, I was as proud as a ‘pop’ (as Tru called me) could be,” TobyMac wrote. “It was the culminating moment of a dream that he had since he was 12. It couldn’t have been sweeter.
“Our music, and what we say lyrically couldn’t be more different, but the outcome was much the same…offering a room full of people a few minutes of joy in a crazy world.”
The Show will go on
TobyMac will still take the Embassy Theatre stage on Nov. 9 as part of his Theatre Tour. Cochren & Co., singer/songwriter and worship leader from southern Indiana, is joining TobyMac on this tour.
Following his Theatre Tour, TobyMac will kick off the Hits Deep Tour 2020, which will also feature Tauren Wells, Jordan Feliz, We Are Messengers, Ryan Stevenson, Aaron Cole, and Cochren & Co.
TobyMac strives to offer people wisdom from the journey he’s been on. As a husband, a father of five, and an artist, TobyMac has managed to build a successful music career winning seven Grammy Awards, six Gold Records from his solo career, and many more awards.
“I really worked for about a year and a half on it,” TobyMac said in an interview with Digital Journal. “I had 30 to 40 songs, and I picked 11 concepts that I couldn’t let go of. I am so passionate about these concepts, and I would chase those concepts as far as I had to to make a great song out of it.”
This album features the lead single “I just need U,” which spent 12 weeks at the top of the Hot Christian Songs chart, becoming the fastest-charting single of TobyMac’s career.
Though TobyMac does many collaborations and features with special guests on most of his other albums, The Elements does not have many features, as he said it was hard for him to imagine someone else singing the lyrics since they are so personal.
“Starts With Me,” one song on The Elements, does feature Christian hip-hop artist Aaron Cole. TobyMac shared on his website that he knew the song would be stronger with another voice.
The two each shared their unique perspective on race and family legacy. They weren’t shy about sharing exactly what they went through, but ultimately agreed upon the importance of confession, repentance, and forgiveness.
TobyMac believes that individual change leads to societal change.
“These relationships are not the sole answer, but they will lead us to the answers,” TobyMac shared to his website. “That is how we will change the culture.”
A New Approach to songwriting
TobyMac let go of worrying about the aspects that come with this profession such as the charts and whether he’s good enough. Instead, he took a new approach of focusing on whether a song makes him feel something, and if there is reason for it to exist in the world.
“I want to write songs that move people toward each other, out of isolation and into dialog,” TobyMac said on his website. “I want to encourage people to rise up against the elements.”
According to CBN News, TobyMac said the most rewarding facet of his career is the ability to play live music after spending time writing and recording the music and praying for his audience in the process.
“I think that special moment is when you walk on the stage,” TobyMac said. “Live music to me is very important and dear to me.”
Outside of creating music, TobyMac was involved with Run for Hope for the past 10 years. This organization raises scholarship funds for low-income families to attend New Hope Academy in Franklin, Tenn.
In the last decade, Run for Hope teams raised $1.8 million and provided 183 scholarships to students at New Hope Academy.
“When somebody has to walk through a desert or a storm, they are fighting the elements, fighting things that aren’t natural to themselves,” TobyMac shared on his website. “Our lives are much the same. We’re fighting against these things every day trying to remain true to who we are called to be.”
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