rowing up in Fairfax, Va., Toby McKeehan fondly remembers donating to Toys for Tots, the U.S. Marine Corps' holiday toy drive.
For the past five years, the popular 45-year-old Christian music artist, now known as TobyMac, has dedicated his holiday-themed shows to Toys for Tots.
TobyMac is coming to the Bryce Jordan Center Thursday for his Winter Wonder Slam featuring Relient K, B. Reith and Stephanie Smith. Winter Wonder Slam teams up with the U.S. Marine Corps to help the Toys for Tots campaign.
(Courtesy photo) TobyMac will be in concert along with Relient K, B. Reith and Stephanie Smith at the Bryce Jordan Center. He is expected to sing songs from a lot of his records, along with Christmas songs.
"It's a tour that always runs between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We always make sure the toys go to kids in the local area," TobyMac said.
A few years ago, TobyMac knew he wanted to become involved with Toys for Tots, so he did some research, teamed with the U.S. Marine Corps, and encouraged fans to bring unwrapped toys to his Winter Wonder Slam shows.
"The Marine Corps has been completely overwhelmed with the amount of toys people donate coming to our show. They've been extremely happy with the way the fans at our show have reacted to this," he said.
This will be TobyMac's first time performing at the Bryce Jordan Center, although he has performed before in the State College area. He will perform a lot of songs from his records, but he'll most likely throw in some Christmas songs, reworked in a fun way.
"We just sort of play it by ear. We have fun with it. It's definitely a party-type of concert," he said.
TobyMac says he is a Christian who makes music, but he doesn't think his music needs to have a label.
"I would rather my music fall on open ears. I think all people should listen to my music," he said. "People can label it however they want. My beliefs are going to find their way into my music. I never asked for a label on my music."
TobyMac said his upbringing wasn't particularly religious and he found God at a Christian camp when he was 13 years old.
He has always loved music and loved to write rap songs, when he was younger.
"I was in the basement with a couple of turntables," he said. "I've always been into all sorts of music."
TobyMac describes his music as hip, rock, funk and soul.
"It's a music jumbo," he said.
Fans of TobyMac range in age from 12 to 50, but he expects a lot of college students at the Bryce Jordan show.
"We definitely try to create a show that has something for everybody. Come out and have a good time. Take a break from exams," he said.
The show is at 7 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $50 for dance floor, $31 for level one, $23.50 for level two and groups of 10 or more pay $20.50. Bring an unwrapped toy to donate to the Toys for Tots campaign.