Veteran performers seek to find the intersection of two maxims: Give the audience what they want and leave them wanting more.
Christian hip-hopper TobyMac apparently hit that sweet spot in Belton during his 2016 “Hits DEEP Tour” as he’s returning to Belton March 8 with the same tour and concept, but a different supporting lineup.
Joining him in his Bell County Expo Center show, which opens a four-city Texas leg on his spring tour, are Danny Gokey, Mandisa, Ryan Stevenson and Finding Favour.
“It’ll be hits all night long, and hopefully the audience will be singing along,” he said in a recent phone interview. “It’s for the people, by the people.”
With Christian radio network K-LOVE as a tour sponsor, the “Hits DEEP Tour” is heavy on TobyMac’s radio hits. Given that the 53-year-old singer (real name Toby McKeehan) has sold more than 11 million albums and garnered seven Grammy Awards since going solo in 2000, there’s plenty of hits to go around. He started in the 1990s with the Christian rap group dc Talk and has been going strong for nearly 20 years.
Many of his early fans have stayed with him, from his first album “Momentum” to the current “This Is Not A Test,” and he continues to add younger listeners. “I have parents now listening to the music,” he said. “It’s fun to see families grow up.”
Technology has changed some things over the years, such as the growth of social media to keep in touch with fans. Has his music? “I never really thought about it,” he said. “I continue to write songs as long as they resonate with the people I’ve known, but I don’t think I had a plan.”
The musician noted, however, he writes more from his experience as he’s grown older. “I started out writing a little more fictionally. Now I tend to write about my own experiences, my own hills and valleys,” he said. “It’s easier to sing because you’re vulnerable. You’re a real person. You can’t fake it.”
That focus on a relationship with God rather than the finer points of belief continue to connect TobyMac with his audiences through the years. “All that realness is what people desire,” he said. “I’m all for the church. I’m a member and I love it, but I also think there’s something about music and the way I talk to people.”
Opening for TobyMac are Danny Gokey,an “American Idol” finalist; gospel and contemporary Christian singer Mandisa; worship leader and songwriter Ryan Stevenson; and contemporary Christian band Finding Favour, the latter two signed to TobyMac’s label Gotee Records.
“Expect a night of diversity, musically and racially,” he said.