In the ‘80s and ‘90s, hip-hop dominated the airways but a group now known as Take 6 broke through and made a capella cool again. Take 6 stood out from the MC-dominated music scene and the sextet soon racked up numerous hit songs and Grammy Awards. They had come a long way from their humble beginnings.
The group hailed from Huntsville, AL, and was openly religious, with members often talking about their Seventh-Day Adventist faith.
Take 6 started in 1980 when Claude McKnight (brother of musician Brian McKnight) formed a quartet known as the Gentlemen’s Estate Club at Oakwood College, now Oakwood University — a Seventh-day Adventist university where Claude was a freshman. Claude auditioned fellow students for the hobby group. He settled on Alvin Chea, Cedric Dent, and David Thomas. The Gentlemen were rehearsing in a campus bathroom when Mark Kibble walked by and heard them singing. He joined the harmonizing, adding a fifth part. The group changed its named and performed under the moniker “Alliance.”
They performed on campus and in local churches during their college years.
Mervyn Warren joined later joined the group. They signed to Alliance Records/Warner Bros. in 1987 and became Take 6.
The world fell in love with the group’s a capella. Their jazz harmonies that touched genres from pop and R&B to doo-wop and blues were a hit. Their self-titled debut album, released in 1988, won them three Grammy Awards — Best Soul Gospel Performance, Jazz Vocal Performance and Gospel Performance in theor category. The album landed in the Top Ten Billboard Contemporary Jazz and Contemporary Christian Charts — and they’ve never slowed down.
Take 6 later moved to Reprise Records, another Warner-distributed imprint, and released six more albums through the early 2000s, including a live recording and two holiday albums.
Although they won fame with their unique a capella, they also used instrumental backing on the albums “Join the Band” (1994) and “Brothers” (1996). After the release of the album “Beautiful World” in 2002, Take 6 left Warner Bros. and went independent. In 2006, the group started the label Take 6 Records, later signing with SoNo Records for the album release of “Believe” in 2016, according to AllMusic.com. Their last studio album was “Iconic” in 2018. The album’s first single was a cover version of “Change the World” by Eric Clapton and debuted on the Contemporary Jazz Song chart in the top 30. The second single, “Sailing,” was a cover of the Christopher Cross classic.
In total, they released 16 albums, and racked up 10 Grammy and 10 Dove awards. Dove Awards honor outstanding achievements and excellence in Christian and Gospel Music. They also earned three certified gold albums, awarded for sales of 500,000+ units.
Among their hit singles are “A Quiet Place” (1988), “Spread Love” (1988), “All I Need” (1994), “Biggest Part of Me” (1994), and “All Night Long” (2018)
Take 6 contributed to the film Spike Lee film “Do the Right Thing.” They worked with some of legendary names in music such as Ella Fitzgerald, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Whitney Houston. Take 6 performed for U.S. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the White House.
Over the years, the group changed members. Joey Kibble (Mark’s younger brother) replaced Mervyn Warren in 1991. Khristian Dentley replaced Cedric Dent in 2011.
Despite the fame and fortune, the group remained steadfast in their faith. “(Our faith) is extremely important to us,” McKnight told Adventist Record. “It’s who we are, and that comes through our music.”
“The one thing that keeps us rooted in that we view what we do as a ministry,” Thomas said. “It’s the fact that we feel that we’ve been each individually called into this ministry that kind of keeps us rooted.”
The group is stills active today, performing nationwide.
Photo: Take 6 website
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