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Interview By Bobby Schuller
Kevin Toney (KT) is a Grammy nominated musician and composer who has learned the formula for creating hit music. Kevin is a graduate of Howard University in Washington D.C., and is one of the original members of the jazz-soul group, the Blackbyrds. He is also an author, recently releasing his book "The Virtuous Man: Breaking the Men's Code." Kevin's latest CD is "Heart of Gratitude" and is available where CD's are sold. Bobby Schuller (BS) interviews Kevin.
BS: My guest this morning is Kevin Toney. Kevin's a world-class musician and composer who has learned the formula for creating hit music. He's an award-winning pianist, who also has a powerful, personal testimony to share.
Would you please welcome with me, Kevin Toney? Kevin, how are you?
KT: I'm doing great.
BS: So you're an accomplished musician and we're really looking forward to hearing you play for us in a bit. You were even nominated for a Grammy so you've had a successful music career, but what was your life like before you found God?
KT: It was about the world of music. It was about practicing, trying to be the best I could on my own accord. It was about making hit records. Many people know me from my background as being one of the original members of a group called the Blackbyrds. We had hit records out like "Walking in Rhythm" and "Rock Creek Park."
So I thought having number one records, gold records, sales, traveling around the world and hearing one's self on the radio was an image of success.
BS: So your life was all about music. You wanted to thrive and have hit records, and you wanted to have incredible gigs, and this kind of a thing. How did that affect your life?
KT: Well it turned my life around in that after a point, I was not pursuing things spiritually that I needed to pursue. I was more or less letting music become my idol as opposed to God being that person who I should seek my success within.
Success was also being married twenty-five years, and today we're going on now thirty-three years. But in my early days, success was having a family, beautiful wife, beautiful children and being able to provide for those two.
BS: So how did you go from that place where success was measured in those terms to where you are now? I mean today you would say that God is your source.
KT: God is my source now. Before, I had to learn that. See I went through a metamorphosis. Ten years ago, I was facing divorce because of my infidelities.
BS: Tell us about that.
KT: By man's standard and by God's standard, my wife had every reason and right to divorce me.
BS: But she didn't.
KT: No, she didn't.
BS: Why not?
KT: Because as a couple, God had other plans for us, and God had other plans for me. I could have done what a lot of men do. You find yourself into trouble and you get into things that you know you shouldn't, but you let your temptations overcome you.
BS: What is your marriage like today?
KT: Well here's my miracle and my turning point, because people say well what did you change? What happened? What turned you around? So here's what turned me around.
First of all, today we've been married for thirty-three years. The good news is that God took a broken man like me, He took a broken marriage after twenty-five years of being married, and He restored that. I am absolutely sure that it wasn't by my doings. If it was by my doings, I wouldn't be up here now having this conversation with you. God restored me as a man and He restored our marriage. He took me through that step and that process.
The turning point came when my wife confronted me with my infidelity, and she asked me to leave the house for a night to think about what I wanted to do. So I checked into a nearby hotel, and again, I'm just trying to think like I had been thinking all day: 'what alibis can I use?' I'm still in denial, even though I've now been confronted with the truth.
So I wake up the next morning, and I'm still not seeking God. I'm not even praying at this point! I'm still trying to figure out who can I call. So fifteen minutes before check out, I called a friend named James. I said, 'James, I'm in trouble, I need your help. Can you help me?'
He said, 'Kevin, if you had reached me yesterday, I couldn't help you. You're reaching me now and I still can't help you because you see I've been where you are and I lost my wife. If you love your wife,' (which I knew I did), 'then fight for her. Are you near a Bible?'
Well of course I am in the hotel and there's Gideon's bible. (God always puts us in the right place.) I pull it out and right away my friend James takes me to Proverbs 5, 6 and 7 where it tells everything about adultery. Then he takes me further to Ephesians 5 where it talks about what God requires of men and women in marriage. He takes me to some scriptures in 1st Corinthians.
Then he says, 'Kevin, I know you're going to need more of this and perhaps this is going to plant some seeds in to you,' so he gave me the number to a minister. I called this minister and he in turn gave me a number to a counselor.
Now I knew that the issues I had were something deeper and they went further than my marriage. So I was at a crossroad. I wanted to get myself together, so I took another year of counseling to try to figure out what was going on with me and to connect with God.
BS: Kevin, there are people all over the world struggling in their marriages because of infidelity and things like this. There are people whose marriages are barely holding on and they're listening to you, saying, 'well he worked it out but I don't think we can work this out.' What would you say to those people?
KT: I would say when you're ready to surrender to God, to let God in your life. When you're ready to listen to His words, and when you're ready to trust and have faith in Him.
First of all, God doesn't make mistakes. In my marriage, it took me twenty-five years to figure that God's best was already there. Even though I knew it all along, I still wanted to try to have greener pastures. But there wasn't anything greater. I saw through my transformation that God was working through my wife and He was working through my counselor.
You know if you're in trouble, get help. My best analogy is just like this: if your car is broken, what are you going to do? If you're not a mechanic, you're not going to fix it yourself.
BS: You need a mechanic.
KT: That's right. You need a mechanic. So find a counselor who is not only biblically based but also practically based so that you can get the practical tools and the spiritual tools to clean yourself up and start a fresh new season.
BS: Great! Thank you so much for coming and sharing your story with us. Now you're going to be playing for us a song you wrote called, "God's love?"
KT: Yes, this music is from my CD called "Heart of Gratitude." It is my thank you to God for restoring me as a man and restoring my family.
BS: Thank you, Kevin.
KT: Thank you.
BS: Kevin Toney's book is entitled "The Virtuous Man: Breaking the Men's Code," and is available where books are sold. His CD is "Heart of Gratitude" and is available where CD's are sold.