Christian music artist TobyMac’s favorite part about releasing a new record is being able to go on tour.
“These songs that you prayed over. You sweated over. You walk out on stage and you start to sing these songs and you see people singing them back to you and you see a full arena. There’s not a more special moment for an artist,” he said. “It’s when the song and the people that you hoped it would touch or resonate with and the artist, all three things come together. It’s a really special moment.”
On Thursday, the Grammy-winning artist will be sharing that special moment with a crowd of local fans when his This Is Not A Test tour comes to the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth.
According to TobyMac, he spent about 18 months in the studio recording his latest album “This Is Not A Test,” released in August.
“You kind of feel like you’re in cave working on this record. You don’t get to run it by many people and you’re in there working and working and you feel a little bit isolated,” he said. “Then you kind of come out and hold up this thing called a record, or a release of 12 songs, and you’re like, ‘Here it is. Eureka, I’m finished.’ And your hope, your prayer is that these songs will resonate with people. That they’ll meet people where they are.”
TobyMac’s music has touched millions over the course of his career — he’s garnered six Grammy Awards and five of his solo albums are RIAA Gold Certified.
During the ’80s, TobyMac and his friends, Michael Tait and Kevin Max, formed the Grammy-winning, platinum-selling Christian pop group dc Talk. When the group ended in 1999, he began a solo career, releasing his first album “Momentum” in 2001. His fifth studio album “Eye On It,” released in 2012, was the highest chart debut of his solo career, landing at the top of the Billboard 200.
While the songs from “This Is Not a Test” may not quite fit into the genre of soul music, TobyMac said they have a lot of soul in them.
“I really want people to feel these songs to their bones this time, and that to me is soul music,” he said. “My goal in the studio is to not leave a song alone until it makes you feel something, and once it makes you feel something, then leave it alone.”
TobyMac said he puts out a new release every three years because he has “to live enough life to write about,” and “This Is Not A Test” is a special record that reflects his growth as a person and musician.
The song “Love Feels Like,” which features his former band mates from dc Talk, is partially based on his experiences with losing his father earlier this year.
“It’s about learning a new dimension of love,” TobyMac said. “Learning that this hands and feet love is really the deepest love that there is. I think that you can love someone with your heart, but when you start to love them with your hands and feet and you’re serving them — it’s beautiful, man. It’s a new level for me.”
TobyMac said he wrote the soulful, spiritual track “Move (Keep Walkin’)” with the hope of helping listeners find strength during difficult times, and the first single “Beyond Me” is about going beyond yourself.
“Trying to do something bigger than I can do on my own,” he said, “that’s inspired by something beyond myself, really my faith in God and trusting in Him and wanting to do something bigger than myself.”
Local fans can look forward to hearing TobyMac perform these soulful songs live with the help of a full band, complete with a horn section.
“I always say I want people to leave my show sweaty and hoarse but also refreshed on the inside, just feeling ready to take on life again with their heart in a good spot, ready to love people well,” he said.
TobyMac’s This Is Not A Test tour featuring guests Britt Nicole, Colton Dixon and Hollyn will be at the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth on Thursday, Dec. 3. Tickets are $10.47 to $69.50. For more information, visit www.infiniteenergycenter.com/events.