Christian hip hop artist tobyMac kicked off his annual "Winter Wonder-Slam" tour with rock band Relient K this week, hitting the first of 17 cities throughout the Bible belt with "not your typical concert."
"This is the fourth year we have done this tour and it continues to get bigger and bigger," stated Philip Peters of True Artist Management, which manages for Christian artists including tobyMac, Mandisa, and Matthew West.
"This year the lineup is going to be a party from start to finish—with Relient K, Family Force 5 and new Gotee artist B. Reith," he added.
For many, Winter Wonder-Slam has become a traditional holiday family reunion. And this year's reunion is anticipated to again bring the real meaning of Christmas to concert-goers and needy children alike.
As in past years, Winter Wonder-Slam will benefit the U.S. Marine Corps' annual Toys For Tots campaign, which provides a tangible sign of hope to economically disadvantaged children at Christmas.
Concert-goers will again this year be encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped gift to the event.
"I'm a big activist. I love it when people do things for others," commented Peters.
"This year it's my personal mission to make it huge! So start thinking of ideas for toys to donate," he encouraged.
Each year, Winter Slam sets records for the amount of gifts collected for Toys For Tots and produces multiple sell-outs. More than a week before the first Winter Slam stop, the tour had already pre-sold 5,200 tickets in one day for the Houston show, which won't be until Dec. 12.
"During the holidays, everyone needs a break from studying for exams and Christmas shopping," explained tobyMac, whose real name is Kevin Michael Mckeehan. "I wanted to put together a diverse tour that rocks in many musical directions but always points to Christ."
While Winter Wonder-Slam does have a Christmas theme, each band that performs will play their own hits and whatever they are inspired to dish out.
Relient K, for example, will play several Christmas songs as well as a variety of hits and fan favorites from its 10-year history. The band recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with the release of The Bird and the Bee Sides. It also re-issued its 2007 Christmas collection, Let It Snow Baby...Let It Reindeer.
"[E]very band will be playing their hits and doing it the way they do," exclaimed tobyMac.
This year's Winter Slam comes as tobyMac's latest album, Portable Sounds, has come to be his best-selling solo project to-date.
With over 8 million career scans and sold out tours, Portable Sounds is quickly approaching RIAA GOLD certification. The critically acclaimed album debuted on the Billboard Top 200 chart at No. 10 and hit No. 1 on SoundScan's Contemporary Christian Overall chart in its first week.
All three of tobyMac's solo projects have received numerous GMA Dove Award nominations as well as GRAMMY nominations.
Dates for the "Winter Wonder-Slam" tour :
11/13 Greenville, SC Bi-Lo Center
11/14 Jacksonville, FL Veterans Memorial Arena
11/15 West Palm Beach, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre
11/16 Ft. Meyers, FL Germain Arena
11/20 Lincoln, NE Pershing Auditorium
11/21 Denver, CO Denver Coliseum
11/22 Kansas City, MO Municipal Auditorium
11/23 Oklahoma City, OK Ford Center
11/29 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre
11/30 Knoxville, TN Knoxville Coliseum
12/5 Nashville, TN Sommet Center
12/6 Huntsville, AL VBC
12/7 Mobile, AL Mobile Civic Center
12/11 Bosier City, LA Century Tel
12/12 Houston, TX Toyota Center
12/13 Tulsa, OK Mabee Center
12/14 Dallas, TX Nokia Theater