tobyMac Breaks Down How He Earned His First No. 1 Hit In Over Five Years

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For the first time in over five years, tobyMac is back at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart as a solo artist with "I just need U.," an upbeat religious pop hit. In 2012, the 53-year-old’s sixth album, Eye on It, topped the Billboard 200 -- the first time a Christian act had done so since 1997. As "I just need U." builds, the track’s key players explain how it came together.


“[The song] started in a session writing for the band Finding Favour, but they said it wasn't for them. I thought about [it] and began plowing through my feelings. The world tricks us into thinking certain things will fulfill us, [but] time and again I end up hungry. But when I look to my faith, I begin to find a permanent fulfillment. There’s depth and there’s soul, which is what you would expect from a seasoned artist.”

THE PRODUCER: Bryan Fowler

Laci Fowler
Bryan Fowler

“We sat on it, but it took a while to find the verses. I think we had 25 versions of the song to get to this point. But we’ve worked together for a while now and know how to pull the best out of each other. We got into a cool head space and did something we loved. [But] I don’t think either of us assumed it was going to be a single.”

THE EXECUTIVE: Capitol Christian Music Group chief creative officer Brad O’Donnell

Courtesy of Capitol Christian Music Group
Brad O'Donnell

“There was something special about this [song], from what it’s saying to its emotional punch. At the same time, it was a little dangerous, [because it’s] new territory for Toby. You can never plan to release the biggest song of an artist’s career, or the biggest song in our format in a long time -- they’re nice surprises when you’re doing good work.”

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 3 issue of Billboard.