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TobyMac in 2015
TobyMac in 2015
Background information
Birth nameKevin Michael McKeehan
Born (1964-10-22) October 22, 1964 (age 56)
Fairfax, Virginia, U.S.
  • Rapper
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • author
Years active1987–present[1]
LabelsForeFront, EMI CMG
Associated acts

Toby McKeehan (born Kevin Michael McKeehan;[2] October 22, 1964), better known by his stage name TobyMac (styled tobyMac or TOBYMAC), is an American Christian hip hop recording artist, music producer, songwriter and author.

He has charted 20 solo singles on Billboard's Christian Songs list.[3] He was first known for being a member of the Christian vocal trio DC Talk, staying with them from 1987 until they went on hiatus in 2000. He has since continued a successful solo career with the release of seven studio albums: Momentum (2001), Welcome to Diverse City (2004), Portable Sounds (2007), Tonight (2010), Eye on It (2012), This Is Not a Test (2015), and The Elements (2018), as well as five remixed albums: Re:Mix Momentum (2003), Renovating Diverse City (2005), Dubbed and Freq'd: A Remix Project (2012), Eye'm All Mixed Up, The St. Nemele Collab Sessions. He also has a full-length Christmas album Christmas in Diverse City (2011), which was his first holiday album.[4] He became the third Christian artist to have a No. 1 debut on Billboard 200 chart[5] with Eye on It.[6][7]

Between DC Talk and his own solo career, he has sold more than 10 million albums[8] and won seven Grammy Awards.[9] He has had six No. 1 hit CHR singles[10] including "Gone", "Made to Love", and "Lose My Soul." Six singles have gone to No. 1 on Billboard's Christian Songs chart, making him one of the artists with the most No. 1 hits on that chart. His live concert CD+DVD combo album, Alive and Transported, was released in 2008 and received the Grammy Award for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album at the 51st Grammy Awards in 2009.[11] His fifth studio album, Eye on It, received a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album at the 2013 Grammys.

Musical career

DC Talk (1987–2001)

TobyMac formed DC Talk with Michael Tait in 1987 at Liberty University. He and Tait released Christian Rhymes to a Rhythm in 1988 and recruited classmate Kevin Max Smith to join the group. The three set out on tour after they released their first album in 1989, DC Talk. In 1990, they released Nu Thang, their first gold album. After the Nu Thang tour, they recorded Free at Last which was certified platinum. DC Talk gained mainstream attention by playing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Arsenio Hall Show. They released their next album, Jesus Freak, in 1995, and it went multi-platinum and led to the Jesus Freak World Tour. They released the tour CD, Welcome to the Freakshow. Following the release of "Between You and Me" which reached No. 29 on the Hot 100 in 1996,[12] the group released Supernatural, which would be their last album. The album was certified platinum.

DC Talk disbanded in 2001 and its members embarked on solo careers. In 2005, the band performed together at a show in Redmond, Washington, and again in 2010 when he made a surprise guest appearance at Winter Jam in Nashville. In 2011, he joined Tait on the song "Jesus Freak" in Greensboro, North Carolina. DC Talk has recorded several songs together since their hiatus, including 2002's "Let's Roll", a song about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, "Atmosphere (Remix)" on his 2004 album Welcome to Diverse City, "The Cross", a track on Kevin Max's 2007 album The Blood, and "Love Feels Like", a track on TobyMac's 2015 album This Is Not a Test.

Solo career

Momentum (2001–03)

On January 1, 2001, he released his first solo album: Momentum. He composed and recorded the song "Extreme Days" for the 2001 Truth Builder Productions film Extreme Days, which was featured on the Momentum album. Momentum, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart in the November 24 issue.[13] The song "Extreme Days" was also used in the movie Hangman's Curse, based on a book by Frank Peretti. His song "Get This Party Started" was featured on an episode of the TV show Roswell. His song "Yours" reached the Top 5 on "Yours", "Extreme Days", "Get This Party Started" and "Momentum" were all featured in the Xbox 360 video game Crackdown. "Momentum" earned five Dove Awards and a Grammy nomination. He was nominated for Artist of the Year at the 34th GMA Dove Awards.[14]

In 2002, he performed at the Festival Con Dios.[15] Later that year, he released his first Christmas single, "This Christmas". In 2003, he released Re:Mix Momentum, a remix of the album Momentum. His song "Yours" was used in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) as "Sting's" theme song. He was featured on "Throw Yo Hands Up" on Kirk Franklin's 2002 album The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin.

Welcome to Diverse City (2004–06)

TobyMac in 2005
TobyMac in 2005

Welcome to Diverse City was released in October 2004 and is certified gold.[16] The album debuted and peaked on the Billboard 200 at No. 54, selling 21,000 copies that week. His "Winter Wonder Slam Tour" played throughout December 2006.[17] The album's song "The Slam" was featured in the film Never Back Down,[18] advertisements for the films Transporter 2, Aeon Flux, and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, as well as advertisements for the television show Prison Break.[19] The song was also featured in car commercials, men's NCAA clips, NBA Finals (Miami Heat, 2006), World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) programming, NFL Football commercials, and "The Ultimate Highlight" on SportsCenter.[20] Former Ohio Valley Wrestling performer Matt Cappotelli used "The Slam" as his entrance theme.[21] In the movie Never Back Down Toby's song "The Slam" is featured in the main fight scene.[22] "Diverse City" was featured in the Veronica Mars episode The Wrath of Con,[23] as well as Konami's Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 4.[24] "Atmosphere" and "Burn For You" were also used on different commercials.[25] The album gave him another Dove Award for Rap/Hip-Hop Album of the Year. A remix version of the album, Renovating->Diverse City, was released in 2005.[26]

Portable Sounds (2007–08)

McKeehan's third studio album, titled Portable Sounds, was released in 2007 and sold 50,645 copies in its first week,[27] debuting at No. 10 on the Billboard 200, and at No. 1 on the SoundScan Contemporary Christian Overall chart.[28][29] The album also received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.[30] He won rock/contemporary album of the year for "Portable Sounds" at the 39th annual GMA Dove Awards.[31] The songs "Made to Love" and "I'm For You" both hit No. 1 and were the second and third most played songs on Christian Hit Radio stations in 2007.[32] "Hype Man (truDog '07)" features his son Truett.[33] "Ignition" is being used by ABC/ESPN to promote its coverage of NASCAR, and "Boomin'" has also been used to promote a new crime-drama, The Women's Murder Club, on ABC, as well as others. In September 2007, his song "Feelin' So Fly" appeared in the film The Game Plan, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. "Ignition" received worldwide exposure when it was used as the Arizona Cardinals entrance music during the pre-game of Super Bowl XLIII.[34] He was awarded two Dove Awards for his work on this album, including Artist of the Year. His music video featuring the song "Boomin" was awarded a Dove Award for Short Form Music Video of the Year. Around this time also, he wrote his song, "New World" for "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and co-wrote and recorded the song "What We Gonna Do?" for the VeggieTales movie, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie. "Feelin' So Fly" and "I'm for You" appear in Thrillville: Off the Rails.[35]

Alive and Transported (2008–09)

He released his first live album as a solo artist in 2008. Alive and Transported was a live recording of the Portable Sounds Tour in Houston, Texas. It included covers of popular DC Talk songs "Jesus Freak" and "In the Light". The album included a DVD of the concert and gained him a GMA Dove and a Grammy Award.[36]

Tonight (2010–2011)

His fourth studio release, Tonight, was released on February 9, 2010. The album debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, selling 79,000 units in its first week.[1][37] The album's first single, "City on Our Knees", was released on August 14, 2009. The song reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs and No. 1 on both Christian AC and CHR. Christopher Stevens and Dave Wyatt joined McKeehan in producing the album, as with the production of his 2007 release, Portable Sounds. Truett, aka TruDog, Toby's oldest son, was once again featured on a song as in the previous albums.[38] The album is a mix of pop, rock, hip hop, Latin, and funk, similar to his album Portable Sounds. The album charted No. 6 on the Billboard Top 200 and No. 1 on the Billboard Christian albums chart; selling 79,000 units in its first week.[39] In the same year, he released a DVD, TobyMac: Moving Pictures Featuring His Entire Work of Music Videos, on November 10, 2010.[40]

The title track of Tonight is featured in the intro of MLB Network's TV show 30 Clubs 30 Days.[41] In March, he announced the "Hello Tonight" summer 2010 tour with Chris Tomlin.[42] The song "City on Our Knees" earned him a Dove Award for Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year.[43] The song "Showstopper" was used to promote World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) June 2010 Pay Per View, "Fatal 4-Way", and was used at least once in NCAA Basketball. It was also used as an introduction to Thursday Night Football in 2009–2010. His single "Tonight" was also used as a pregame introduction at home games for the Baltimore Orioles during the 2011 MLB season. The song was also promoted for ESPYS' Best U.S Male Olympian. His "Tonight" was listed best Christian album of 2010 on iTunes and his Christmas single titled "Christmas This Year" (featuring Leigh Nash) was awarded the holiday song of the week on iTunes. He was nominated for "Artist of the Year" at the 2011 Dove Awards.[44] Additionally, the songs "Get Back Up" and "City on Our Knees" were recognized for being two of the Top 25 most performed songs on Christian radio over 2010.[45]

In 2010, McKeehan performed at Revelation Generation.[46] He also toured with Skillet and House of Heroes on the "Awake Tonight Tour". He toured with Third Day, Michael W. Smith, Jason Gray and Max Lucado on the World Vision-sponsored "Make a Difference Tour 2010".[47] Tonight was nominated for a Grammy in the category "Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album" for the 53rd Annual Grammy awards.[48] His first full-length Christmas album, Christmas in Diverse City, was released October 4, 2011. It contains songs from each of the Diverse City members as well as TobyMac. Its other guest artists include: Leigh Nash, Owl City, Jamie Grace, Victor Oquendo, Superherose, Arch Nemesiz, Tim Rosenau, Toddiefunk and Byron "Mr. Talkbox" Chambers.[49][50] TobyMac released his third remix album, Dubbed and Freq'd: A Remix Project, on March 27, 2012 featuring remixes of songs from his prior two studio albums.[51]

Eye on It (2012–14)

His fifth full-length studio album, Eye on It, was released August 28, 2012.[52] The album debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 1, which is a first for a Christian album since 1997,[53] and sold 69,000 copies in its first week.[54] The album fell to No. 8 on the second week with 26,000 sales.[55]

The first single, "Me Without You", was released to iTunes and Amazon MP3 on June 12, 2012[56] and went to No. 1 on Billboard's Christian Songs chart on September 1, 2012, becoming the singer's fifth chart-topper.[57] "Family" was used in a promotional advertisement campaign for the show Blue Bloods. One showing of this advertisement was during the 2013 Super Bowl.[58] "Forgiveness" is a collaboration with Christian rapper Lecrae.[59] Although not released as a single, "Eye on It" was utilized by the ACC Network on its telecast of the 2013 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament.[60][better source needed] The song was also used in several commercials by the Fox Sports Networks for NBA and MLB telecasts.[61][citation needed] He appears in the 2013 film I'm in Love with a Church Girl.[62]

A remix album, titled Eye'm All Mixed Up, which features remixes from the album Eye on It, was released on November 4, 2014.[63]

This Is Not a Test (2015–2018)

During his "Worship, Stories, and Songs Tour" in 2014, he performed the first single from his new album,[64] titled "Beyond Me", which was released on January 6, 2015.[65][66] The single "Beyond Me" also appeared on Hot Shot Debut at No. 34 solely on the strength of radio airplay.[67] His sixth studio album, This Is Not a Test, (stylized as "***THIS IS NOT A TEST***") was released on August 7, 2015[68] and debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200.[69] The album appeared on Top Christian Albums at No. 1, selling 35,000 copies in its first week.[70] "Backseat Driver" was released as a promotional single from the album on June 9, 2015,[71] which was later followed by "Til The Day I Die" on July 10, 2015,[72] and "Feel It" on July 24, 2015.[73]

On November 3, 2017, he released Light of Christmas, his second compilation of Christmas songs.[74]

The Elements (2018–present)

In January 2018, he released "I Just Need U", which debuted at No. 1 on the Hot Christian Songs chart, making the song TobyMac's sixth No. 1 single to top the chart.[75][76] In July 2018, he released "Everything" as a single.[77] In September 2018, he both announced his new album, The Elements, and released "Scars" as a single.[78] The album was released on October 12, 2018 and became his fifth album to top the Christian Albums chart on Billboard.[79]

McKeehan released The Lost Demos on May 8, 2020, an EP of recovered demos.[80][81] During the pandemic, he released "Separate Altogether Acoustic" music videos featuring the Diverse City band, his daughter, Marlee McKeehan, and Gotee Records colleague Michael Cochren.[82]

On February 19, 2021, McKeehan released "Help Is On The Way (Maybe Midnight)" as a single.[83]

Other work

He has written two books with Michael Tait and Kevin Max, Jesus Freaks: DC Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs – Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus, the Ultimate Jesus Freaks,[84] and Jesus Freaks: Revolutionaries: Stories of Revolutionaries Who Changed Their World: Fearing GOD, Not Man.[85] These books are mainly focused on Christian martyrs. He has also written two more books with Michael Tait, one titled, Under God,[86] containing stories of America's spiritual battles, and another book called Living Under God: Discovering Your Part in God's Plan.[87]

He has written a fifth book called City on Our Knees.[88] The book is about how Christians past and present have set aside differences, come together in unity, and stepped forward in action and prayer.

He is the president of the record label Gotee Records. He created the label with Todd Collins and Joey Elwood in order to produce Out of Eden's Lovin' the Day after efforts to sign the group to an established label proved unsuccessful.[89] "We all collectively said, 'Let's just give this a shot'", Elwood recalls; "Three naïve guys, a willing band, and some really good songs."[89] Gotee features artists such as Relient K, House of Heroes, Jamie Grace, Capital Kings, and Abandon Kansas. However, as a recording artist, he is under contract with ForeFront Records.

TobyMac has also helped establish a camp, called Camp Electric, located near Nashville, Tennessee, for young musicians who want to have pop and rock skills.[90]

Personal life

McKeehan and his wife Amanda were married in 1994.[91] Amanda, who comes from Jamaica, is the daughter of Judy and Robert Levy (chairman of the agribusiness firm Jamaica Broilers Group), and the family regularly visits the island.[92] His father died from dementia in 2015 after a degenerative phase, an experience which McKeehan cites as inspiration for some of his newest songwriting.[93]

They have had five children: Truett (September 4, 1998 – October 23, 2019), known as TruDog or Tru (stylized as TRU); twins Moses and Marlee, adopted at birth in 2002; Leo, born on November 2, 2004;[1] and Judah, born March 24, 2006.[1] McKeehan's son Moses suffers from muscular dystrophy.[94]

Truett Foster appeared on dc Talk's Solo EP and TobyMac's albums, Momentum, Re:Mix Momentum, Welcome to Diverse City, Renovating Diverse City, Portable Sounds, Tonight, Christmas in Diverse City, Eye on It and Eye'm All Mixed Up as the artist "TruDog" while on This is not a Test he is credited as "TRU". Judah McKeehan has appeared on the albums Tonight and Eye on It with Truett. Truett is featured on the song "Backseat Driver" from This Is Not a Test, as well as on "Alone" from Hollyn's self-titled EP, as "TRU". Truett was an aspiring rapper and waited until he was 21 to start a solo career as Truett Foster. He was found dead at his home in Nashville on October 23, 2019, at age 21 of an accidental drug overdose of fentanyl and amphetamines.[95][96][97][98][99][100] On January 10, 2020, after a hiatus from touring to be with family, TobyMac released "21 Years" as a tribute to his son.[101]


Awards and nominations

American Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2007 TobyMac Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist Nominated
2010 TobyMac Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist Nominated
2011 TobyMac Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist Nominated
2012 TobyMac Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist Won
2013 TobyMac Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist Nominated

Billboard Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2011 TobyMac Top Christian Artist Nominated
"Get Back Up" Top Christian Song Nominated
Tonight Top Christian Album Nominated
2013 TobyMac Top Christian Artist Won
"Me Without You" Top Christian Song Nominated
Eye on It Top Christian Album Won
2014 TobyMac Top Christian Artist Nominated


Year Nominee / work Award Result
2003 Momentum Best Rock Gospel Album Nominated
2005 Welcome to Diverse City Best Rock Gospel Album Nominated
2008 "Made to Love" Best Gospel Song Nominated
Portable Sounds Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album Nominated
2009 Alive and Transported Best Rock Gospel Album Won
2010 "City on Our Knees" Best Gospel Song Nominated
2011 Tonight Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album Nominated
2013 Eye on It Best Contemporary Christian Music Album Won
2014 "Speak Life" Best Contemporary Christian Music Song Nominated
2016 "Feel It" Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song Nominated
This Is Not a Test Best Contemporary Christian Music Album Won
2020 The Elements Best Contemporary Christian Music Album Nominated

GMA Covenant Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2013 "Me Without You" International Song of the Year Nominated
Eye on It International Album of the Year Nominated

GMA Dove Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2002 Momentum Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year Won
"Somebody's Watching Me" Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song Won
TobyMac Producer of the Year Won
"Extreme Days" Rock Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
"Extreme Days" Short Form Music Video of the Year Nominated
2003 "Irene" Short Form Music Video of the Year Won
TobyMac Artist of the Year Nominated
"Irene" Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
"J-Train" (featuring Kirk Franklin) Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
"Get This Party Started" Modern Rock/Alternative Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
Momentum DVD Long Form Music Video Nominated
2004 "Get This Party Started" Rock Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
"Love Is in the House" Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
2005 Welcome to Diverse City Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year Won
2006 "The Slam" (featuring T-Bone) Rock Recorded Song of the Year Won
Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Special Event Album of the Year Won
2007 TobyMac Artist of the Year Nominated
2008 TobyMac Artist of the Year Won
TobyMac Male Vocalist of the Year Nominated
"Made to Love" Song of the Year Nominated
Portable Sounds Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year Won
"Boomin'" Short Form Music Video of the Year Won
2009 TobyMac Artist of the Year Nominated
Alive and Transported Long Form Music Video of the Year Won
2010 TobyMac Artist of the Year Nominated
"City on Our Knees" Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year Won
"Lose My Soul" (featuring Kirk Franklin & Mandisa) Short Form Music Video of the Year Nominated
2011 TobyMac Artist of the Year Nominated
"Get Back Up" Song of the Year Nominated
"Get Back Up" Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
"Showstopper" Rock Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
"Tonight" (featuring John Cooper of Skillet) Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
Tonight Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year Won
2012 Christmas in Diverse City Christmas Album of the Year Nominated
Christmas in Diverse City Recorded Music Packaging of the Year Won
2013 TobyMac Songwriter of the Year Nominated
TobyMac Artist of the Year Won
Eye On It Pop/ Contemporary Album of the Year Won
Eye on It Recorded Music Packaging of the Year Won
"Eye On It" (featuring Britt Nicole) Short Form Video of the Year Won
2016 "This is Not a Test" Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year Won
2017 TobyMac Artist of the Year Nominated
Bring on the Holidays Short Form Video of the Year Nominated
Hits Deep Live Long Form Video of the Year Nominated
2018 TobyMac Songwriter of the Year Nominated
TobyMac Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year Nominated
"I Just Need U." Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
"I Just Need U." Short Form Video of the Year Nominated
"Light of Christmas" Christmas / Special Event Album of the Year Nominated
2019 TobyMac Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year Won
TobyMac Artist of the Year Nominated
"Everything" Song of the Year Nominated
The Elements Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year Nominated
2020 TobyMac Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year Pending


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External links

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