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Review: TobyMac brings faithful fans to Night of Joy 2011 at Walt Disney World




A group of teens paraded through the Magic Kingdom shouting, “When I say Jesus, you say Christ.”

On the average night, you might expect snickering, but this was no average night. The teens were among thousands of self-proclaimed "Jesus Freaks" who gathered at Walt Disney World this past weekend forNight of Joy 2011, the state’s largest and longest running (more than two decades) Christian music festival. This year’s headliners included contemporary Christian artists Kutless, Mercy Me and Jars of Clay.

The big draw, however, was hip-hop king TobyMac, above. Families in matching tees, hand-holding couples and rhythmless grandparents crowded in front of Cinderella’s Castle Saturday night to watch the 47-year-old rapper do his thing.

Sporting a blue beanie and kicks, TobyMac, formerly of the Grammy award-winning group DC Talk, sent vibrations down mainstreet with his band Diverse City, generating beats and guitar riffs generally associated with secular hip-hop. While TobyMac is, without question, getting a little old for some of his dance moves, he hides it well. Fans bounced right along with him to the DC Talk anthem, Jesus Freak. “This is your night,” he told them.

And it was. The people came to see big names but more than that, they came to worship out in the open. Big guys with tattoos. Kids with fauxhawks. Women wearing promise rings. Chanting youth groups. They all came together because of the message behind the music.   

Guests headed to ride Space Mountain were distracted by contemporary gospel vocalist VaShawn Mitchell, who commanded the Rocket Tower Plaza Stage without chaotic lighting and multiple jumbotrons. As Mitchell’s deep voice carried through Tomorrowland, people unfamiliar with his music stopped, closed their eyes and lifted their hands in praise. There were tears, and cries of joy. A few custodians ceased sweeping to sway to the music.

I forgot about wanting to get a spot early to see TobyMac up close.

-- Sarah Whitman, tbt*. Photo: Disney

[Last modified: Monday, September 12, 2011 11:01am]


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