By Andy Rathbun Special to The Herald
It’s been an unusual trip to the top for trailblazing Christian rapper TobyMac.
Under his given name, Toby McKeehan founded the influential Christian rock group dc Talk, which inspired a large following in the 1990s with its musical blend of grunge and gospel.
After that group called it quits in 1999, the singer turned to hip-hop for his next project and, using the name TobyMac, started releasing albums. His fans followed.
Now, the rapper will headline KeyArena at 7 p.m. Saturday, a year after his latest album, “Eye On It,” became the first Christian album to top the Billboard 200 since 1997. It was just the third Christian album to ever occupy the No. 1 spot.
Chalk that success up to the performer’s slick presentation. Rapping over radio-ready beats, TobyMac generally finds a middle ground in his lyrics that is unlikely to offend, favoring rhymes about spirituality over any strict interpretation of, say, the Old Testament.
Tickets are $38.08 to $50.40 at ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000.
That’s not the only big show this weekend, though. Seattle folk-pop heroes the Head and the Heart will hit the Paramount Theatre for a two-night sold-out hometown stand, with concerts at 8 Friday night and Saturday.
The group made a splash in 2012 with its self-titled debut, which featured the hit single “Lost in My Mind.” That song, while ubiquitous on Seattle rock radio, reached just No. 24 on the national charts. Still, it helped the group start to build a fan base.
The group’s second album, “Let’s Be Still,” arrived in October 2013. Led by the bar-room stomp of single “Shake” — a more overtly pop track — the album reached No. 10 on the Billboard 200, an affirmation of the group’s arrival on the national stage.
The band’s two Seattle dates precede an international tour that will find the Head and the Heart playing dates in Berlin, London and Paris in the coming weeks.
Tickets are available at a markup through stubhub.com.
Ani DiFranco also is coming back to Seattle, as the indie folk icon continues to tour behind her 2012 album, “Which Side Are You On?” She plays the Moore Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
DiFranco is an iconic singer-songwriter. She built a following in the 1990s, releasing her albums through her own record label, Righteous Babe, and touring the country in her Volkswagen. Her image — tattoos, piercings, dyed dreadlocks — fit right in to the DIY grunge aesthetic.
Now, her loyal fans continue to push her albums into the top 40 more than two decades after she broke into the mainstream. Her last studio effort hit No. 26 on the charts.
Tickets are $35 at stgpresents.org or 877-784-4849.
Country music star Rosanne Cash also is playing the Moore Theatre, with a show at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
As the daughter of Johnny Cash, Rosanne had both a leg up on her country-singing competitors and a very large shadow to escape. She made her mark, though, scoring a string of No. 1 hits in the 1980s with her fusion of country and pop.
Now a legend in her own right, the singer continues to release new material, albeit sporadically. She is touring now behind “The River and the Thread,” her first album of new material in eight years.
Tickets are $32.50 to $52.50 at stgpresents.org or 877-784-4849.
Finally, local post-hardcore act the Fall of Troy will play the Showbox at 8 p.m. Saturday.
The trio formed in Mukilteo in 2002 and has had a tumultuous career, marred by a breakup in 2010 after the release of its third album.
The group announced a reunion last year, however, and is now taking its music directly to its listeners, with plans to raise money from its fan base to record new albums and fund tours. So far, only one show has been announced on the immediate horizon — its upcoming date in Seattle.
Tickets are $13 at showboxonline.com or 888-929-7849.