TobyMac continues his "Hits Deep Tour"!
Bringing along with him American Idol Stars Mandisa, Colton Dixon; Singer Songwriters Chris August, Brandon Heath, Jamie Grace; and introducing the Capital Kings!
This show has something for everyone and is sure to be an incredible night of music and praise!
With 11 million albums sold and 5 Grammy® Awards to his credit, TobyMac refuses to settle on past accomplishments, as he delivers a diverse album built on honest struggle. He remains passionate about his desire to write songs at the intersection where life and spirituality collide. He calls his new album, Eye On It, which he also calls a complete labor of love.
From his early days in influential group dcTalk to his very first solo album, Momentum, Toby has worked hard to inspire his audience with words of conviction, hope, empowerment and the redemption found in his faith in God.
TobyMac's music is popular not only in the Christian Music Industry but has been used for media including: ESPN, Disney, FOX, NBC and many more!
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The ascension of TobyMac’s solo career has been nothing short of spectacular. In an era of declining music sales he has consistently defied the odds and has seen his sales increase with each new album release. This is no small feat. With his fourth studio album TONIGHT set to release on Feb. 9, he is poised to take things higher yet again.
Having climbed the mountain once with the group dcTalk (4 Grammys, more than 8 million albums sold), TobyMac knows how difficult the journey can be and how much work the process actually takes. Rarely does an artist get to soar to great heights for a second time, but soar he has. He took home his first Grammy as a solo artist last year after receiving Grammy nominations for each of his first three solo projects (Momentum, Welcome To Diverse City, Portable Sounds). And last year TobyMac topped 2 million in total albums sold during his solo career. He has done it with a combination of talent, hard work and humility which has produced songs that resonate with people from all walks of life .
Upon embarking on his solo career, Toby sought to surround himself with a talented and diverse cast of characters, aptly named the Diverse City Band. The result has been a musical fusion that radiates with an unquenchable energy and a penetrating message.
A self-professed perfectionist when making records—he’s been known to relentlessly tweak and massage every little thing in an inexorable effort to make it sound better—Toby is the first to admit that he has to work really hard to make great music. “That’s what drives me,” he says. “I feel like I have to work harder than other people to get there. Sometimes I feel like I’m slightly under-gifted; I usually don't sit down and write a great song in just a few minutes like others can. But I think my work ethic makes up for that.”
Starting with dcTalk, and then going solo when the group disbanded in 2000, Toby still clings to such rootsy notions as hard work, persistence, patience and—perhaps most relevant of all—the power of music, which he insists is still what keeps him going.
“It’s the truth,” he says. “I still believe that a song can penetrate a heart. I believe God can use a song to open someone’s mind and heart. Other songs can just drop what I call, 'the joy bomb' on somebody. I fight really hard to remain unjaded—to keep believing that you can actually walk into a studio and write a song that breathes life. That’s the hardest fight for a guy who’s been doing this for a while; it’s easy to fall into the trap of just making it your job. But I still believe that songs matter.”
The songs on TONIGHT certainly matter—everything from the prayerful first single “City On Our Knees” to the testimonial “Changed Forever,” from the worshipful “Captured” to the confessional “Start Somewhere,” and even down to the put-on-your-party-hat grooves of “Funky Jesus Music” and “ShowStopper.” One theme that runs loud and clear throughout is the idea that we all need God, and we need him now—this morning, this afternoon, tonight.
“Right here, right now / Under the stars / I promise You my heart / ’Cause it starts tonight,” Toby sings on the chorus of the title track. “If you gotta start somewhere why not here? If you gotta start sometime why not now?” he asks on “City on Our Knees.” And “I wanna straighten this before the sun goes down tonight,” he proclaims on “Start Somewhere.”
“There’s definitely a sense of urgency on this record,” says co-producer Chris Stephens, who has worked on TobyMac’s last three CDs. “And it’s an album that speaks of unity, of coming together and finding common ground to worship God.”
Toby has long had a passion for racial reconciliation and unity, a recurrent theme in his music. TONIGHT includes songs of reconciliation of another kind—between husband and wife. Toby and Amanda have been happily married for 15 years, but like all couples, it can be hard work sometimes. For Toby, who best expresses his emotions through music, it was a natural step to write about it. In “Hold On,” he sings, “If you move just a little bit closer / You can put your head on my shoulder . . . / Wipe away those tears / This one’s for you.” And on “Start Somewhere,” he’s downright confessional: “I said some things that I regret / And if I could, I’d take ’em back / But here I am, and there you are / The space between us is not so far / I’m reaching out my hand in love.”
“‘Hold On’ is very personal,” Toby says. “Many lines are there to encourage my wife, but I know those lines could encourage anybody in a relationship. As for ‘Start Somewhere,’ any time you’re in love with somebody, you’re going to bang heads from time to time. I don’t know how many times I’ve been lying in bed, sweating it out and thinking, How am I going to make this right? But then you reach that moment of apology and forgiveness. That’s one of my favorite songs on the record; it’s a personal perspective on confrontation and reconciliation.”
And then there’s “Wonderin’,” in which Toby reminisces about the past with Kevin Max and Michael Tait in dcTalk, one of Christian music’s biggest acts in the 1990s. “We was ridin’ in style, clockin’ them miles / With the songs that He put down deep in our hearts . . . / I’m wonderin’ ’bout the way I spend my days / Wonderin’ if it’s even worth the chase / Wonderin’ if they’re stealin’ me from you.”
“It’s just a warm look back at dc Talk,” says Toby, almost wistfully. “It’s reminiscing about Michael and Kevin and what we did together, and recognizing their influence on me. I love what I do today, but there are times when I wonder,What if we stayed together? I’ve got these dreams I’m pursuing now, but are they stealing me from you? I think about Kevin and Michael on every song I write. That's the truth man, we climbed a mountain together.”
Sonically, TONIGHT is typical TobyMac in many ways—an eclectic mix of rap, rock, pop and funk, all laden with catchy hooks and melodies just itching for airplay and audience singalongs. There’s even a healthy dose of reggae on the album closer “Break Open the Sky,” where Toby flexes his Jamaican family ties while Israel Houghton provides guest vocals. Other visiting vocalists include Skillet’s John Cooper on “Tonight” and Relient K’s Matthew Thiessen on “Wonderin’.”
Of course most of the vocals belong to the artist himself. Stephens says Toby “has stretched himself as a vocalist, he writes about things he is passionate about and his vocals reflect that urgency''. Toby agrees: “I do more singing on this record than ever before. I’m learning to use my vocal instrument in different ways, and I’m getting more comfortable with it everyday''.
It all adds up to a project that reflects one man’s desire to push himself beyond “very good,” to dig deep in the quest for that other country where greatness resides. He certainly reached for it. Hard.
“I’ve worked very hard not to fall into the trap of making this just a gig,” he says. “If it is a labor, it’s a labor of love. I know music can’t change the world, but who says God can't speak through a song."
Right here, right now. TONIGHT.
These songs are true to me; they’re songs I identify with,” says Mandisa about her sophomore album, Freedom. “I can’t wait to start singing them because they reflect my story – the things I’ve been through, and the things I’m still going through now. Each one means something special to me.” The anticipation for new music from this celebrated vocalist is great. Aside from last year’s critically-acclaimed holiday project It’s Christmas (2008), the AC and pop-flavored Freedom is the follow-up to Mandisa’s 2007 debut, True Beauty, an album that created history by becoming the highest chart entry and made her the best-selling debut artist in the life of her label, Sparrow Records. It also became the only female debut to hit No. 1 in the 27-year history of Billboard’s Christian Retail Chart. True Beauty received a GRAMMY® nomination for “Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album, the single “Only the World” became a Top 5 hit at Christian radio, and Mandisa was lauded one of the “Best New Artists of 2007” by multiple media outlets.
And as if that weren’t enough, there’s this: In the past year alone, Mandisa has made appearances on “TODAY,” “Live with Regis & Kelly,” “CBS Early Show,” “Fox & Friends,” “Extra,” “TV Guide Channel,” “E! News Radio” “Huckabee” and “Associated Press TV.” She even discussed Lindsay Lohan and addiction with “CNN Showbiz Tonight.” In 2009 Mandisa will be speaking out to thousands of women across the U.S. as she becomes part of the celebrated Women of Faith events.
Needless to say, Mandisa has been established as one of the most promising new talents in the Christian music industry. But she takes nothing for granted, and is quick to point out what’s truly important to her.
“I grew up watching the Grammy® Awards – seeing my favorite artists perform, win their awards and give speeches,” Mandisa shares. “There is something about being nominated for a Grammy® that is just such an honor, and because I know the history behind it, it certainly meant a lot to me and was a highlight this past year. But as a Christian artist, you try not to get sucked into watching things like chart positions and how many albums are being sold because I recognize that what I do really has more to do with the impact it has on lives than whether or not it’s padding my bank account.”
Mandisa approaches everything with that same humble, self-effacing perspective, which is part of what has drawn people to her since she first appeared on TV screens before an audience of millions just a few short years ago. Don’t forget how this incredible musical journey began – with a spectacular run of performances that led Mandisa into the final rounds of “American Idol’s” fifth season. It was during those first few months of 2006 that she became a household name and garnered a multitude of fans as she wowed audiences with her powerful voice and contagious smile.
Those months were the beginning of major change in Mandisa’s life – in more ways than one. They were certainly the launch of a promising new musical career, but they also represented another turning point for her. When “Idol” judge Simon Cowell made negative comments about her weight on national television, it was a shock to Mandisa and to many of the millions who were cheering her on. She admits now, as she has discussed at length in her book Idol Eyes: My New Perspective on Faith, Fat & Fame, that those hurtful words cut deeply, causing a lot of immediate pain and embarrassment.
“My struggle with weight has been the biggest struggle of my life and it began as a very young girl,” she says. “There were certain things that happened to me as a child, just different situations of abuse that I talk about pretty freely and pretty openly but as a result of that abuse I started to turn to food to feel comfort and to fill that void that was left as a child and what I have learned is that the only thing that will satisfy me and the only thing that will truly give me comfort is the Comforter and He is the only one that can fill that void. And so one day at a time I have been set free or I am being set free from what I call is a food addiction. I believe that you can be addicted to alcohol and drugs and for me I believe that I have been addicted to food for several years. And so it’s been a journey, it’s been a very difficult journey, but it’s a journey that I’m overcoming one day at a time. As I speak, we are about 2 months away from this record releasing, and I have lost 60 pounds. But, I have to say, it is about more than eating, and more than exercising. Of course those things have to be a part of this, but it is truly what my first single says it is because my Deliverer has set me free from all that has held me captive and I just believe that this is, again, it’s going to be a lifelong journey for me but as long as one day at a time I am getting closer and closer to being set free that’s all that I can ask for and I believe that that’s happening.”
Since the months and years that have followed her days on American Idol, the debut CD and book, Mandisa has realized how much that experience and everything she learned from it has given her a platform to reach out to others through her music. It became a major part of the songs she recorded for True Beauty, but she has gracefully moved into an even deeper understanding of who she is now and what she wants to communicate through the new collection of songs she recorded for Freedom.
“With True Beauty, I felt like the Lord was teaching me at that time that my value doesn’t come from my outward appearance, and it doesn’t come from what people think of me or how successful they think I am,” Mandisa says. “It really does come from inside of me, and it comes from what he would say about me. “The same is true with Freedom,” she continues. “I realized that the theme building in my life right now is the theme of freedom. There are many things I’ve not conquered, but to actually be able to say that God has freed me from some things in my life is… well… freeing! I can see the work he’s doing in my heart, and it’s definitely being reflected in the songs I’m writing, and the songs I’ve been drawn to as we put together this album.”
The jubilant first single, “My Deliverer,” is a perfect example of the empowering message that builds the foundation of the entire album. With its buoyant pop/funk track backing her up, Mandisa sings with a carefree confidence about feeling more alive than ever.
“If there’s any one song that truly reflects what God is doing in my life, this is that song,” Mandisa explains. “My struggle with weight has been, and will probably continue to be, the biggest battle of my life. There are certainly physical ways in which I’m now taking control of that addiction, but more important than that, it’s a spiritual warfare issue for me as well. I have to ask for God’s help every single day, so I know that it’s going to take a whole lot more than any diet plan or any exercise plan to set me free. He is truly my deliverer who is setting me free from all of this, and he’s the reason I’m so excited about being able to sing this song.”
Mandisa continues the theme with the urban/gospel stylings of “Freedom Song,” one of several tracks she co-penned with songwriters Matthew West and Sam Mizell. Complete with a gospel choir and B3 organ, Mandisa lets loose on this song she calls a “praise party” about freedom that can be found in Christ. “I wanted to do a song that was from the perspective of a lot of different people – a mother and wife who has lost her identity, a child who is from a broken home or maybe a man who has been bound by addiction for several years. All of us, no matter what our circumstances, can find freedom in Christ. And when you’ve found freedom like that, you’ve got to shout it out.”
Producers Brown Bannister and Christopher Stevens expertly guided these songs between styles while staying true to Mandisa’s own personality and character. They were able to extract a range of some of the most powerful and poignant performances from this artist to date, including “He is With You,” which re-teamed her with writer Ronnie Freeman, and is one of Mandisa’s personal favorites on the album because she believes it hits every single situation anyone could imagine. As she says, “No matter if you are a man or a woman or black or white or young or old, God is with you and God loves you and God will never leave you and He will never forsake you.”
One of the album’s most stirring songs is its final track, “You Wouldn’t Cry (Andrew’s Song).” It holds a tender place in Mandisa’s heart because it was written for a new friend she made this past year who was pregnant, but whose baby boy, Andrew, was stillborn. “I wanted to do a song from Andrew’s perspective – about what he would say if he could speak to his Mom right now from heaven and comfort her.” Co-written with singer/songwriter Cindy Morgan, the song’s tender verses and melodic refrain, perfectly delivered by Mandisa’s clear, crisp vocals, are sure to be a comfort to all who have lost loved ones in their lives. More than anything else, that sums up the heart behind Freedom. It’s simply an outpouring of what Mandisa is learning through the relationships she has with those God has placed in her life, and the relationship she has with him.
“These songs mean so much to me because they give me an opportunity to share with others what I’ve been through, and what I’ve learned from so far on this journey. It really is true freedom to know that the Holy Spirit is the great comforter. So no matter what people are going through – whether it’s abuse, the loss of a child, or not having money to pay the bills – there is a God who loves you and is with you no matter what. I know when I go through difficult times, the best defense I have is to worship him, because when you magnify God, your issues look smaller. He can bring us out of whatever we’re going through and even use it for good, and for His glory.”
Byron "Mr. Talkbox" Chambers:
Byron "Mr. Talkbox" Chambers, (Top CD BABY Seller) is an Orlando-born singer and self-taught instrumentalist. He is married to his beautiful wife, Tammy, of 9 yrs, and are the parents of 3 wonderful children.
Byron's musical career began in his father's Gospel group at the age of five. Growing up in a musical household, Byron was introduced to various genre's of music. He listened to everything from Gospel to Jazz. However, there was one particular sound that caught his heart: The Talkbox. He heard it used by an R&B Funk Master artist named Roger Troutman. When he heard it, he immediately wanted to play it himself for God. From there his journey began.
He later performed and toured with great Gospel groups such as: The Christianaires, Bishop Paul S.Morton The Mighty Clouds of Joy The Canton Spirituals Keith Wonderboy Johnson Lucinda Moore Dewayne Woods Deitrick Haddon Fred Hammond Damita Haddon Ce Ce Winans Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers Broderick Rice Comedian Akintunde John Gray Benny Hinn Dr. Zachery Tims Dr. Cindy Trimm Bishop Liston Page Bishop T.D. Jakes. Recently, Byron was featured on Toby Mac's (of DC TALK), GRAMMY NOMINATED, Dove Award winning GOLD CERTIFIED CD, entitled Welcome to Diverse City. This title cut also features the "Funk Master" Bootsy Collins! Check out Mr. Talkbox on the newest Toby Mac's cd called Portable Sounds!! Byron's altar ego "Mr.Talkbox" has a conversation with Toby Mac..Toby calls Mr.Talkbox on the phone, and Mr.Talkbox answers the phone playin the talkbox...Classic Toby Mac humor!
Byron is on the Stellar award winner and Grammy nominated singer, Martha Munnizzi's newest cd, entitled "No Limits!" (Live) which debut at number 1 on Billboard for several weeks. Byron has toured and performed with Pop artists such as:
Smilez and Southstar
Jordan Knight (formerly of New Kids on the Block)
Hit producer Dakari Trans Continental Studios
While touring with N'SYNC, Byron appeared on shows like: Saturday Night Live, The View, The Radio City Music awards, Nickelodeon's Teen Choice Awards, Walt Disney's Very Merry Christmas Parade (ABC), Home for the Holidays Christmans Special (featuring Stevie Wonder, Brian McKnight, and Morgan Freeman), The N'SYNC "Aint No Stoppin' Us Now" Pay-per-view special, MTV's TRL, Good Morning America, E True Holiywood Stories (N'SYNC), the Loreal Summer Music Mania, and Nickelodeon's The Big Help.
Gospel appearances: Bobby Jones Gospel (BET, Word Network), Praise Time (U P N). He has also worked with Rodney "DARK CHILD" Jerkins, Michael Jackson, Brandy, and many more...
In the midst of all the fame and fortune, God began to deal with Byron spiritually concerning his gifts. Byron says, "God told me at the height of my blossoming career to leave the road and dedicate my life to him, and he would bless my music to minister to the world." Now he uses his music to reach a generation in a whole new style that has earned him the name "MR. TALKBOX." Byron's TALKBOX performance synergizes with a unique micro-phonics sound that delivers a sensationally new flavor of music that "talks." His animated electrifying presence reveals his deep passion to spread the Gospel. Byron has a true testimony to share. His life, experiences, and choices he's made on this journey have paved the way for healing and delivereance of others. Byron is currently playing drums with Group 1Crew Fervant/Warner Brothers.
Jamie Grace, a 19-year-old singer-songwriter who is appearing as part of Women of Faith’s popular “Revolve Tour,” has been signed by Gotee Records, helmed by Joey Elwood and multiple GRAMMY ® winner TobyMac. Gotee Records’ will also launch Jamie Grace’s debut Hold Me e.p. digitally on February 22, with plans for a full project release in fall 2011.
Hailing from outside of Atlanta in Lithonia, Georgia, Jamie is a college student who aside from her career and touring as a singer-songwriter, is also studying children’s ministry. At age 11, Jamie Grace was diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome, and has since traveled the country sharing her story and faith through music and speaking.