Music festivals often stick to a general theme. They’ll focus on hard rock, indie or jam with an occasional nod to another genre. The Winter Jam Tour, stopping Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena, covers a wide variety of genres, including hip hop, hard rock, pop and singer-songwriters. The one thing uniting them all is that their music is Christian-themed.
Rapper TobyMac (real name Kevin McKeehan) is headlining the tour, but he’s not sure “Christian” works well for an ever-broadening field of music.
“The oddity of Christian music is it’s the only label that’s based on the music’s content,” TobyMac said during a phone interview. “You think of a style of music as something like jazz or rock or hip hop, then suddenly there’s this mixed bag of styles called Christian music. It’s a little weird.”
TobyMac’s career dates back more than 25 years, when he founded the group DC Talk with Michael Tait and Kevin Max. Since 2001 TobyMac has been performing as a solo act, having crossover success with songs like “City On Our Knees” and “Get Back Up.”
Last year TobyMac released his sixth studio album, “Eye on It.” It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, the first Christian album to do so since LeAnn Rimes’ “You Light Up My Life” in 1997.
The rapper knows that not everyone is buying his music for the deeper meaning, but he hopes that the positive messages shine through.
“I want them to enjoy it and get out of it whatever they get out of it,” TobyMac said. “Whether they want to love people better or love God with all their heart, serve society or reach out to the homeless.
“I hope the goodness is actually resonating with them.”
TobyMac said his writing style hasn’t changed much since the DC Talk days. He still hears Tait and Max’s voices in his head while composing, even though the three rarely collaborate these days. But he has found that his approach to writing is a bit different. In the DC Talk days, TobyMac was more likely to write about an idea, or fictional story. Now he’s writing more from his own life.
“What I’ve learned is to write about my own life and the struggles I’ve gone through, and the things I’ve overcome,” TobyMac said. “I write about real situations and real things in my life, and I find that resonated in a different way and connects with people’s lives in a greater way.”
Winter Jam Tour
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, 730 Third St.
Cost: $10 (available at the door only)