Meet Take 6

It all began when six clean-cut young men—Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, Cedric Dent, David Thomas, Alvin Chea, and Mervyn Warren—teamed up to sing at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama. Following the historically conservative tradition of the college’s founding church, Seventh Day Adventist, the guys performed gospel songs a cappella. But not just any a cappella. Their complex 6-part harmonies are unrivaled to this day, and their unique vocal stylings have influenced such top pop acts as Boyz II Men. After a few years of personal and professional growth (one of their favorite rehearsal sites was the dorm bathroom, due to its fine acoustics), the talented group was confident that their talents were ready for the big time. So in 1987 they arranged a performance for 30 gospel record company executives at a Christian bookstore in Nashville. However, only 10 people showed up, including one uninvited guest: Jim Ed Norman of Warner Brothers. As fate would have it, Norman signed the group, and one year later they released their self-titled debut album.

That first recording earned Take 6 a large audience, even in the secular world—although some secular critics found it hard to believe that such a spectacular group would "limit themselves" to gospel songs. Alvin Chea, the resonating bass of the group, laughs at such notions. "Plenty of people do other kinds of music. Our calling, and the reason we’re still together, is to worship and praise God. It’s never been a debate for us."

Since then, this amazing sextet has released five gold and platinum-selling albums, won eight Dove Awards and seven Grammys (at last count!), appeared on numerous movie soundtracks and television specials, and performed with an impressive array of talent, including Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Al Jarreau, Don Henley, James Taylor, Randy Travis, Branford Marsalis, and BeBe & CeCe Winans. Their songs combine elements of gospel, jazz, doo-wop, R&B, even innovative adaptations of classic Negro spirituals—all made memorable by acrobatic solos and flawless harmonies. They recorded an unforgettable Christmas album, and some of their recent releases feature music performed by guest musicians and the band members themselves (three of them play trombone, one guitar, one flute, and all of them can play keyboards). After Mervyn Warren left the group in 1991 to pursue a career in production, he was replaced by Joey Kibble, Mark’s brother.

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