Take 6’s endurance is even more remarkable because many of their R&B counterparts have come and gone. Their dapper appearance and tight harmonies resemble R&B groups from yesteryear. But aside from the occasional foray into jazz, Take 6 sings gospel music. Of course, the way they sing gospel music still is in a class of its own.
Who could imagine that a group of young college buddies with a love of the Lord and smooth a cappella harmonies could thrive for nearly 25 years in the music industry — without compromising their message or the way they deliver it? (The group added instrumentation to their sound with the 1991 holiday release, He Is Christmas.)
Group founder and lead tenor, Claude McKnight, said the gentlemen are thankful that they were able to take what was essentially a hobby and turn it into a fulfilling, award-winning career.
Take 6 performs on Dec. 18 at Free Gospel Sundays, a popular series at the Arsht Performing Arts Center in Miami. Although the show is free, reservations are required and understandably, there are no seats left.
McKnight, older brother of R&B heart throb Brian McKnight, said although the group has managed to maintain its style and sound since they formed in 1987 at Alabama’s then Oakwood College, doing so doesn’t come without challenges. He said with so many personalities in the ensemble, there are frequent discussions about the group’s persona.
“With six guys in the group with varying ideas and thought processes and different ideas for creativity, it makes for an interesting conversation. It becomes interesting to try to keep the entire ship going in what we would all consider the most creative, most…relevant place,” he said. “It’s a wonderful thing because since we respect each other and our opinions, I think it makes the whole organization stronger,” McKnight said during a telephone interview from Philadelphia, where the group performed on Dec. 9.
Take 6 has undergone a few personnel changes over the years, but none as defining as the departure of baritone Cedric Dent, who left the group in May after being a member since 1985. "It has been perhaps one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my adult life," Dent shared with fans in a statement.
Although no longer performing with the group, Dent continues to be a part of Take 6 behind the scenes.
Despite the ten Grammy awards and performances with such legends as Ella Fitzgerald, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and Al Jarreau, McKnight said the most significant accomplishment for Take 6 is the lives they’ve touched across the world over the past 25 years.
“The fact that we’ve been able to travel the world, and leave with (audiences) a ministry that we’ve started that the Lord has brought us to, to see how the seeds have been planted is a wonderful feeling,” McKnight said.
And although his fans may disagree, McKnight said the most surprising aspect of their career is “The fact that we’re still around.”
First Access passes are gone; Stand-By line only. Patrons who do not have a First Access Pass can join the stand-by line at 3 p.m., and will be let into the theater at
3:45 p.m. if seats are available. The Knight Concert Hall is at the Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Visit arshtcenter.org
Photo: Courtesy of PETER WOCHNIAK
HEAVENLY HARMONY: America’s favorite 10-time Grammy Award winning a cappella gospel-jazz sextet deliver their spirit-filled sound and style at the Arsht Center Dec. 18.