TobyMac talks about WinterJam ahead of Saturday show at BOK Center
Mar 07, 2013 (Tulsa World - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
TobyMac is glad to be back in Tulsa.
The area was one of the earliest to embrace his music with Christian rap music act dcTalk in the late 1980s.
For years, he's been headlining his own gigs as a solo star and one of the top-selling artists in the Christian music genre. He's back in Tulsa as part of the Winter Jam tour, which hits the BOK Center on Saturday. Performing with him will be Newsong, RED, Matthew West, Jamie Grace, Sidewalk Prophets and Royal Tailor. Pre-show guests include Jason Castro, OBB and Capital Kings. The all-ages show is $10 at the door.
"It's been a couple of years since I've come through there with WinterJam," he said during a recent telephone interview. "It's always a huge party, a celebration and the right atmosphere for my music."
The top-selling musician joins the top-selling Christian music package tour in the United States.
The Winter Jam tour series started in the mid-'90s as a showcase for younger audiences. It includes Christian rap, rock, pop, contemporary Christian music acts, speakers and even comedy.
"It's a rolling festival," TobyMac said. The varied lineup and "no ticket" admission helps fuel the all-ages atmosphere, he said.
The low-cost admission has helped it sell more tickets than many larger arena acts, including Bon Jovi and Lady Gaga, according to Pollstar ticket numbers from early 2011.
"This tour is like none other I do because I get to hang out with so many other like-minded musicians on this tour," he said of the lineup. He may play other festivals or have an opening act or two while on his own tours, but the variety sets Winter Jam apart. They pray together, play together -- and often write music together.
"Then there's the rounds of basketball and cornhole," he said of his travel-time.
The friendliness transfers -- and transforms -- audiences, too, he said.
"I think fans recognize that we're all in this together, that we're genuine," he said. "The audience knows when it's real, and this is real fellowship."
In fact, he said every stop so far has sold out, leaving "overflow" at the door. "When the shows sell out that fast, I'll often do an acoustic set outside when crowds get that big" to help entertain fans who might not be able to make it inside.
"The general admission aspect helps build excitement. All of it draws me in just like it does the crowd."
Last year, TobyMac was named Christian Artist of 2012 by Amazon, and his album, "Eye on It," was named album of the year by several outlets, including iTunes and Rhapsody. He also won "Favorite Artist -- Contemporary/Inspirational" at the American Music Awards.
"Eye On It" continues the evolution of his music and incorporates pop and rock elements with electronica and dubstep. It won him a Grammy last month for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.
It was a hit for his secular fans, too, and went to No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart soon after its August release.
"The good news is that I poured a lot of passion and love into that record," he said. "There are good things to share on that record: How to love your neighbor, how to help the more needy and serve people.
"Coupled with this tour, I know most of these artists. This tour is important because it's part of my own faith life. I cannot separate them. My faith is my life as much as it is my music. ... God is the center of my life. It's all a natural fit," he said.
"The biggest lesson I've learned from my earliest days and tour stops in Tulsa until today is to always remain unjaded. I'm always sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering if God's going to breathe another song into me.
"I expect something great to happen, and I'm always surprised and grateful when it does."
featuring TobyMac, Newsong, RED, Matthew West, Jamie Grace, Sidewalk Prophets and Royal Tailor. Pre-show guests include Jason Castro, OBB and Capital Kings.
When: Doors open 5 p.m., showtime 6 p.m. Saturday. Pre-party "Jam Nation" doors open at 3:30 p.m.
Where: BOK Center, 200 S. Denver Ave.
Tickets: All-ages. Tickets are $10 at the door.
Jennifer Chancellor 918-581-8346
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