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Gabe Patillo, TobyMac’s Former Hype Man and Son of Gospel Music Association’s President, Loses Battle With Cancer

Gabe Patillo TobyMac
Screengrab via Instagram @gmadoveawards

Gabe Patillo, best known as TobyMac’s (Toby McKeehan) hype man, lost his battle with cancer on Friday, April 12.

Patillo went by the stage name GabeReal in TobyMac’s Diverse City Band. He was also the son of Gospel Music Association (GMA) President Jackie Patillo.


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In a statement, the GMA said that Patillo will be “hugely missed” and that the entire GMA staff “loved Gabe like family.”

“We know heaven is rejoicing but are praying for Jesus to be near to the many friends and family who loved Gabriel so very much,” the GMA said.

“Gabe was known for his lifelong love for Jesus,” the GMA added. “His faith was part of his every day and the reason for his infectious smile. To know Gabe was to know how much he loved the Lord and his family.”

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In addition to working with TobyMac as a background singer, choreographer, dancer, and tour producer, Patillo’s other accomplishments included voiceover acting, dancing for dc Talk when he was young, and appearing in multiple music videos. He was a theater actor at Nashville’s Opryland when he was a kid.

TobyMac’s official Facebook page, Team Toby, posted, “Today Gabe met Jesus! While we are crushed—He is healed.” The post personally addressed Gabe and told him, “You will always hold a place in our hearts. We will watch over your family. You have left a legacy that we will never forget, Oh, how we loved you!”

Due to his health, Patillo had stopped touring with TobyMac. In February, McKeehan shared on social media that he would not only miss Patillo’s talents while on tour but also his friendship.

“What can I say about one of the most impressive men I have ever had the fortune of walking with,” McKeehan said. “I have lived most of my adult life with Gabriel Patillo (GabeReal) by my side professionally and as one of my best friends.”

“In his over 20 years with me, Gabe has been the secret sauce in so many areas, well beyond his incredible gifting as a stage performer,” he added. “From helping to produce our shows to managing tour culture, from personal advice to spiritual accountability, from loving people well to holding them to a standard with compassion.”

“We have chopped up almost every professional decision on my plate for many-many years,” McKeehan said.