TobyMac talks about reaching teens in today's world

During a personal interview with Communities @Washington Times at the Creation Festival in Mount Union, PA, Toby said he is releasing a new album titled

 Mount Union, PA - July 1, 2012 - TobyMac’s propensity for attracting and positively influencing youth comes as no surprise when interviewing the dynamically talented, nationally renowned Christian rapper in person.

The multi-platinum recording artist emanates a passion for composing and performing music to reach youth. He accomplishes this on a level that few, if any, Christian musicians have.

During a personal interview with Communities @Washington Times at the Creation Festival in Mount Union, PA, Toby said he is releasing a new album titled “Eye on It” in August. This album follows his 2010 album, “Tonight.”

“I think it’s my best work so far … It was an absolute labor of love and I am happy about that,” Toby said.

Exuding an unpretentiousness not always seen in performers of his stature, Toby spoke candidly and guilelessly about his love for Christ and surviving the trials presented by the world we live in today.

“I believe there is hope in having a loving relationship with God.”

Toby stressed that he is aware of the challenges that young people must contend with while growing up today. This knowledge serves as an impetus to reach youth, regardless of their socioeconomic status or cultural background, at their very core.

“What inspires me is trying to (help youth) pursue faith in an angry world … Everything you do is challenged in every way - challenged at its roots.”

Toby was born and raised in Arlington, VA, which he describes as “beautifully diverse.” This early exposure to people from myriad ethnic and cultural backgrounds has also influenced his music and his desire to reach people from varied lifestyles.

The Creation Festival, known for attracting tens of thousands of people from all over the nation, is a great venue for an artist like TobyMac, who longs to touch lives through his music.  Toby stated that he “loves the diversity” at the Creation Festival and its inclusiveness. He likes Creation’s invitation that everyone is “welcome to come and worship the Creator.”

Expounding on his desire to positively impact youth, Toby said, “I love music and I love the youth culture… I love putting messages in music that move me. I write about my life’s experiences - the pain, the struggles, and the victories.”

TobyMac personally developed a relationship with Christ at a young age. “I became a Christian when I was 13 … I made my own decision - wasn’t brought up with it. I didn’t even know about Christian music, just hymns.”

His talent for music led him to begin writing rap lyrics at 15 or 16 years of age. Around age 18, Toby began composing music to accompany his lyrics. He also used his vocal talents in choral groups and in a high school “garage band.”

While studying at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, Toby met and became friends with the young men who eventually formed dc Talk. After graduating from college, the group of musicians eventually achieved success in the Christian music world.

Despite the close friendships he formed in dc Talk, Toby eventually felt led to become a solo artist, a decision he said he doesn’t regret. As a family man with a wife and five children at home, Toby finds the schedule less grueling.  As an established artist, Toby and his band perform about 75 shows per year, except when he releases a new album, when he does at least 110 shows.

One of those performances will be held not far from Toby’s hometown of Arlington. He and his band will perform at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA, in late fall.

The most challenging aspect of touring is being away from his wife and children, who reside in Tennessee. His band members also have families of their own, so they understand each other and relate not only as Christian musicians, but also as fathers or mothers. Because of their shared beliefs and values, TobyMac and the band members love and respect each other.

Toby noted that he and his band members are also from ethnically diverse backgrounds, which he appreciates. Toby’s own family is diverse, as well, with two of his children having darker skin. His wife, Amanda, was born and raised in Jamaica, adding to his family’s cultural diversity. Toby and his wife embrace those differences and are happy that two of his children are adopted. The family attends a church that is culturally diverse as well.

Perhaps his appreciation for people and their uniqueness is the reason he is motivated to write heartfelt, soulful lyrics while sitting somewhere obscure, like a park bench, where he can observe “human interactions.”

Because he desires most to reach youth with a message about living for Christ, regardless of their circumstances and backgrounds, Toby stays atop of teen trends, etc. His “cool” youthful image and dynamic performances attract teens and often result in changed lives.

Regarding the difficulties teens face today, Toby offered the following advice: “Hey, find friends who inspire you and ask God to bring friends into your life who love Him more than you. I ask God to bring people into my life who inspire me and love Him more… You know the old adage, ‘We become who we associate with.”  

VIDEO: TobyMac, “Lose My Soul”

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Lori Rose Centi

Lori lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons.  A  writer and a teacher on the post-secondary level. Lori began writing stories and poetry as a child growing up in a rural area in Central Pa. Passionate about writing, words (I know - weird, huh?), reading, and learning, Lori has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism and a teaching certificate in English.

My graduate work (which is yet unfinished) is in English as well. I enjoy spending time with family and friends; exploring our world (whether literally or metaphorically) and learning something new everyday.


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