NASHVILLE (BP)—Grammy-winning contemporary Christian artist TobyMac’s new album “Life After Death,” proclaims the goodness of God amidst the most devastating of circumstances.
The 15-track album, releasing Friday (Aug. 19) is the first for TobyMac (Kevin Michael McKeehan) since the death of his son and oldest child Truett in the fall of 2019 at the age of 21.
In an interview with Baptist Press, McKeehan said the first music he began to create after Truett’s passing simply reflected “the thoughts and feelings of walking through that season of loss.”
The first song to come was “21 Years,” a tribute to his son and an emotional song of lament expressing his grief-stricken thoughts to God.
A few weeks later, McKeehan asked his daughter Marlee if she would help him create a song dedicated to Truett which became “Everything About You.” He later would produce a song titled “Faithfully.”
Months after that, and still in immense pain, McKeehan wondered if he would ever return to his traditional musical style, as opposed to the more serious ballads he had been creating.
“I was just grieving and wondering, will I ever write an up-tempo song again, or is this just where I’m going to live?” McKeehan said.
This all changed when he came across a Bible verse referencing God “rolling up his sleeve” (Isaiah 52:10), which inspired him to create the song “Help Is On The Way.”
“It was an intense and up-beat song, and I started to believe it and started to count on God rolling up His sleeves and coming to help. I started to stand on that a little bit.”
McKeehan would continue his return back to uplifting and up-beat music with the song “The Goodness,” which he developed after discovering a quote that said “a saint is not someone who is good, but someone who experiences the goodness of God.”
“I kind of discovered that good is God somehow or another,” McKeehan said. “Somehow these little bands of light made it through all the foliage making things dark, and I started to see these glimpses of light and it was God’s goodness. If you give God a true chance and walk with Him in your deepest pain, there is life after death.
“That’s what I experienced. I can be a saint, and I can follow my King, because I’ve experienced and do experience the goodness of God even in the midst of utter devastation.”
“The Goodness” features voice and piano contributions from Blessing Offor, a blind Christian recording artist recently nominated for a Dove award for “Best New Artist.”
This is just one of the album’s collaborations. Other musicians appearing on the record include Zach Williams, Sheryl Crow, Tauren Wells, Jon Reddick, Cory Asbury and Wande.
Notably, one track includes a reunion with McKeehan’s old dc Talk bandmates Michael Tait and Kevin Max.
The song, titled “Space,” refers to the ups and downs of human relationships and the distance that often develops between friends over time whether naturally or intentionally.
“As I was pondered that concept and pondered my relationship with Michael and Kevin, I thought it would be a great song for us to put forth together,” McKeehan said. “The three of us locked arms and climbed a mountain together. The three of us all laughed, cried, argued and loved together.
“We’re not as close as we were back then, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care for each other, and love keeps no record of wrongs. So even if we’ve hurt each other in the past, we need to stand on that principle.”
Throughout the process of making the album, McKeehan said his close relationship with God is what helped him wrestle through the hard season. He encouraged others to seek out the same relationship.
“The way we relate to God is by talking to Him and listening,” McKeehan said. “The only way I’m truly in a relationship with God is if I’m listening to Him, and the way I listen to Him is by reading His Word. I also can’t be relationship with God if I’m not talking to Him through prayer.”
McKeehan said the goal for his music is to make it accessible and relatable to others.
“I always want to write songs that resonate with as many people as possible because these songs are to serve people,” he said. “My heart is to be transparent and raw in my life and my music because I figure I go through things for a reason.”
“I’ve been through some really hard things and climbed some mountains where the view was beautiful. I want to always share that with everybody. The music that I make is to serve and not to take or indulge. I just want to be a servant in this process.
“When other people are walking through the same things, it might just whisper in their ear along the way or offer some type of love through these songs to let them know they’re not alone. There’s a God out there who loves us and there is purpose in everything.”
This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.