Tributes pour in as gospel singer Gabe Patillo loses battle with cancer

Gabe Patillo, a Christian performer associated with artist TobyMac, died of cancer April 12, 2024.
Gabe Patillo, a Christian performer associated with artist TobyMac, died of cancer April 12, 2024. | Screenshot: YouTube/Derek Hoiem

A gospel singer associated with a popular Christian artist has died of cancer, prompting Christian music organizations and bands to offer tributes. 

The Gospel Music Association took to Instagram Friday to announce that “Gabriel Patillo passed away on April 12 surrounded by his loving family.” Identifying Patillo as the “son of GMA President Jackie Patillo,” the post elaborated on his contributions to the Christian music industry.

Specifically, the Gospel Music Association noted that Patillo danced for the Christian band DC Talk and worked with “GRAMMY and GMA Dove Award-winning artist TobyMac as part of Diverse City where he sang background vocals, was a choreographer and dancer and co-produced TobyMac tours.” In addition to his mother, the late artist is survived by his wife, Jenni, along with his three children: Amara, Milo and Remy. 

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In a Facebook post on Friday, TobyMac remarked, “Today Gabe met Jesus!” The Christian singer expressed confidence that “While we are crushed, [he] is healed.”

“Gabe, you will always hold a place in our hearts,” TobyMac vowed. “We will watch over your family.”

After rejoicing that Patillo “left a legacy that we will never forget,” TobyMac drew upon the popular contemporary Christian song “How He Loves Us” by stating, “Oh, how we loved you.”

In a subsequent post on Saturday, TobyMac offered a much longer tribute to the group’s former bandmate. 

“I wish everyone knew Gabe Patillo,” he said. “I wish everyone could walk with him, get challenged by him, collaborate with him, laugh with him, pray with him, meditate on scripture with him and be loved by him.”

TobyMac also shared the positive effects of knowing Patillo: “You would be a better person. You would learn to care for others. You would learn to listen. You would hear the hard truth delivered compassionately.” 

“You would not get by with foolishness but you’d laugh with joy til your belly hurt,” he wrote. “You would learn that we can see things differently, but still have respect for one another. You would not be scared of tough conversations about race and politics and social issues or apologetics and interpretations. No, you would dive in and talk it through to find the common ground or respectfully disagree while treating one another with dignity.”

He continued: “You would know his warm smile. You would know that he lightens a room that is heavy with his quick witted observations or deepens the moments that shouldn’t remain on the surface. His eyes offered love, not the ‘I want you to like me’ kind but the ‘I see you’ kind. The kind of eyes that see the people behind the scenes that do the hardest work but get the least recognition.” 

Recalling how “Gabe could sing, he could rap, he could dance, and he could play trumpet onstage,” TobyMac praised Patillo as “one of the best performers I’ve ever been around” who “embodied the heart of every song we sang, every night.” He maintained that “we thought through every moment of every show together for the last 24 years” and “pushed each other to be intentional with every move made, every note played and every word spoken or sang on that stage.”

“But what I will treasure for the rest of my life is behind the curtain; on the bus, in the dressing rooms, at rehearsals, and at home. I saw him become a man, a husband and a father that I respect. A guy that went from being like my lil bro to a man that continues to inspire me in every aspect of my life. What an utter privilege it has been to call him friend,” he concluded. 

A GoFundMe page under “The Patillo Family Fund” shared that Patillo died after “a battle with cancer.” The fundraiser states that money raised on the crowdfunding platform would “honor Gabe’s legacy by helping his family cover their financial needs in the near and distant future” by helping his wife and children with “medical, living, and educational expenses.” As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition has raised more than $150,000 of a $250,000 goal.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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