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TobyMac on Christian Music and Raising a Son with a Disability

TobyMac discusses his new album The Elements


The name TobyMac is synonymous with Christian music. He formed the band DC Talk in 1987 while still in college. In 2001, Toby went solo and his career took off.

He has sold millions of records, won seven Grammys, started a record label and toured the world. Along the way, he opened up Christian music to new styles and influences and paved the way for the genre to break into the mainstream music world.

TobyMac’s newest album, The Elements, is his first album in three years. He prefers to take his time between records. He wants to soak up enough life experiences to have something new to say. The new record features his signature catchy hooks, but adds a reflective and slightly somber tone, the result of his experience the past few years.

“The longer I live on this earth the more I become aware that this earth is coming against the way I want to live,” Toby told Guideposts.org. “It’s pushing against who I’ve determined I want to be. It pushes up against being a believer in this world. It pushes up against being a great father, a great husband, a great friend. I liken that to going up against the elements.”

The changing landscape of his family and community also affected the sound and message of the album. “Scars” was written with his oldest son, Truett, in mind. The experience of his son Moses, who has muscular dystrophy, also flowed into the writing process.

“Things are changing,” Toby says. “Having a son with a disability is changing our lives every day. Having teenagers in the house will bring in new circumstances [and] new conversations. I’ve always based my songs on life and what I’m going through, and I just assume other people are going through the same types of things. I don’t think we’re that different, you know that I mean? Maybe this one is a little deeper because the things I’m facing are greater and ever evolving.”

Since first going on tour with DC Talk in 1989, Toby’s energy for performing has seemed nearly limitless and his creative output has been remarkably consistent for someone with so many demands on his time. It all begs the questions: what drives him to keep performing and writing after over 30 years in the industry?

“First of all, I just love writing songs and when you write a song you want to share that song with people,” Toby says. “I’m writing about things that matter to me. Things that I hope will cause people to converse, cause people to talk, cause people to investigate their own life. I don’t have all the answers, but I want people to dialogue. There’s a sense of mission in what I do as well as art.”

The mission is evident in the heavy topics his songs address. “Starts With Me”, featuring rapper Aaron Cole, tackles racial reconciliation. On the title track he sings about the world “always tryin’ to rip my family apart.”

The message of these songs is not hopelessness, but trust—in God and in himself. In the chorus to the song “Edge of My Seat” Toby sings the lyrics “you are opening my eyes to new possibilities.”  We asked him what new possibilities are exciting him now.

“I’m excited every day about what kind of person I can be,” Toby says. “I feel like I’m always striving to be a better man, [to be] a person that’s more in touch with my insides and more in touch with my Creator. We’re always evolving, always being transformed and that to me is what I look forward to every day.”

The Elements releases October 12.

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