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TobyMac has his eye on Oklahoma City

Contemporary Christian recording artist TobyMac is the headliner for the 2013 Winter Jam concert set for Saturday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in downtown Oklahoma City.
by Carla Hinton Modified: February 28, 2013 at 12:13 am •  Published: March 1, 2013

Q: One thing I've noticed about you is that you are never going to be pigeonholed. What are your thoughts about that?

A: Yeah, either people love that or they hate it. The musical purists, someone that's looking for a body of work that is cohesive, they may not be feelin' it, but I look at it as there's a time to throw your hands up and dance and there's a time to think about a friend you should have been there for who is going through something and you regret that you weren't there for them and that makes you cry. I think all those things are in life. I like to wrap all of that in my record.

Q: How have people responded to this album? I know it recently won a Grammy Award.

A: Yeah, and the week it came out it was No 1 on iTunes and the Billboard charts. People were buying the record. To me, that's a great response. It means that you've said something in your music that they want more of. I'm just super honored by that and thankful. It doesn't make me put my head in the air; it makes me grateful. I don't look at music as self-indulgent, the songs I write. I'm always hoping that they meet people where they are.

Q: Can you talk about the title cut “Eye on It”? The album is popular, but so is the song.

A: It's sort of an electronic rock dance thing. It's one of those songs that I try to create a little bit of chaos musically — scream on it, rap on it, sing on it. I try to create a little bit of chaos in a good way. The lyrics are about focusing on what matters to you. So many times this world can take us and we look up and we're focusing on something we were never intended to focus on. This song is about remaining focused on what matters to you.

Q: I read that you believe more and more faith-inspired songs are going to be embraced by mainstream audiences. Why do you make this prediction?

A: I think people are less and less scared of mixing their faith with their music. I think it's part of our lives. I think that hip-hop has never been scared of anything. Kanye West has always talked about his spirituality and even Bob Marley always used to talk about his spirituality in his music. I think the rest of the world is kind of waking up to this, you know, that these are the deeper things that are driving the outside things. And iTunes, so many times, I will look at the main iTunes charts, and my friends will be at the top. I mean the rock group Red, who we are touring with, last week they were at the top of the iTunes chart. Not the gospel or Christian charts, the main chart. I just think that the walls between what is considered faith music or gospel music are coming down. People are just saying “that's music.”

Q: You obviously see that as a good thing?

A: I do. I think allow people to make their choice. If you put a heavy label on it, it might fall on deaf ears. I want my music to fall on open ears, to allow people to make their choice: I want this music because it does something on my inside, or I want this music because it rocks hard — whatever it is.

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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