While publicizing “Life After Death,” his first new album in four years, Christian musician TobyMac (Toby McKeehan) is opening up about the October 2019 death of son Truett Foster McKeehan. Truett, also a musician, died at age 21 from an accidental overdose of fentanyl and amphetamines.
In an interview that aired August 22 on “Good Morning America (GMA),” TobyMac tells ABC’s Chris Connelly that his firstborn son’s drug use “was maybe a bit of a secret life struggle,” but “it wasn’t like he had gone to rehab.” TobyMac adds, “This was his first time, that I know of, buying something from the streets. But it feels like one fatal mistake to me.”
TobyMac Finds ‘Beautiful Assurance’ in Son’s Faith
“Life After Death,” TobyMac’s first album since Truett’s death, features the January 2020 single “21 Years.” The only way to create that emotional song so quickly, says TobyMac, was to view it as a tribute to his son. “I wanted to create a sort of monument to how amazing he was,” he says.
Just days before he died, Truett performed his “first and only show as an artist,” with his father in the audience. “He crushed it,” says TobyMac. “He knocked it out of the park.” In front of the Franklin, Tennessee, theater afterward, TobyMac told Truett he loved him and was proud of him. That turned out to be the last time the two saw each other.
News of Truett’s death arrived while TobyMac was on a tour bus, where he “fell to my knees” and asked “about 25 times” if people were “sure” about the report. “I couldn’t believe my amazing son was gone,” he says.
In the GMA interview, the musician recounts his final text from Truett: “Dad, you’ve always made me feel like a superhero.” TobyMac says, “You couldn’t ask for more than that. I’m so grateful that he knew I loved him with everything in me.” He adds, “I have no doubt about him walking with God, and that brings me such beautiful assurance.”
Music, Faith, Community Help TobyMac Recover
When asked how he made it through the first days after the tragedy, TobyMac credits music. And when asked about the impact on his own faith, he admits his son’s death “rocked it for a while.”
Although TobyMac “didn’t walk away” from God, he says he kind of “made a deal” with him. “I’m gonna trust you through this” and give you a chance, the musician told God—not meaning to be “dishonoring.” The result? “In that time, [God] was kind.”
TobyMac describes “Life After Death” as his “journal over the last three years” and “the journey from where I was to where I am.” Making the album was “a step of faith,” he says, and required recognizing that “God might have a bigger plan than I do.” The artist adds, “The reason I got into music from day one was my hope that this music would turn people’s eyes to God.”