On the Dock
NOV 1999 - MAY 2000
Volume 5 Number 1
9 I'll Take 6
Take 6, a Christian group whose music transcends categories.
13 Reparations Bill Seeks Economic Justice
13 N'COBRA Stakes Positions on Reparations
14 Dr. King on Economic Equality
BEYOUND THE SIZZLING FLESH
15 Diversity Dancing
15 Porn Star Seeks Love
THE DIVERSITY OF HUMAN SEXUALITY
Hermaphrodites, the "Colored" Between Male and Female
16 Dressing to Suit Her Heart
20 Hidden Identities
22 They Found Love in an Unexpected Place and Time
27 Free Y2K Solution
28 Millennium Mediations
2 THE PUBLISHER’S POINT
A STORY FROM THE OTHER SIDE
3 A Date With Death
HISTORY/HERSTORY BLACK MEMORABILIA
4 Preserving the Legacies of Two Great 20th Century Men: Malcolm & Alvin
5 A Great-Great Granddaughter's Legacy: Madam C. J. Walker
4 FOOD & FUN RECIPE
7 Widow, Mother, Woman, with HIV
8 A Family Faces Breast Cancer Across the Miles
10 Big Beautiful Woman Vacations in Jamaica
11 Little Africa in Mexico
12 Money Talk . . .
WHERE WE LIVE
24 We Live East of the Anacostia River, Too!: A Look at the Kenilworth Communities
27 POETRY PIER
In an age where producers use electronic gadgets and gizmos to create the hottest sound, not many groups have climbed the tops of music charts by using their voices as their primary instruments. Take 6 is such a group. Their latest and second Christmas CD, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” follows this tradition.
The seven-time Grammy winning recording artists believe that singing a cappella, or without musical instruments to back them up, allows people to hear unfiltered sounds straight from their souls. Their brand of soul music has opened doors and allowed them to work with such legendary and diverse artists as Quincy Jones, Shania Twain, Boston Pops, and k.d. Lang.
Outside the U.S., they have a large following in Japan and have eyes on South America. “South America is an emerging market for us. We toured there in 1997 and 1998 and plan to go back in 2000,” said group founder Claude McKnight, in an e-mail interview.
Fans may be unaware that they are a Christian-based group from the Seventh-Day Adventist tradition. In accordance with the preferences of their denomination, group members abstain from drinking and smoking.
The group realizes that religion turns some people off, but they don’t shy away from positive messages. McKnight explained, “Everything we record on our albums has a spiritual message or meaning. Many people who listen to our music accept those messages and are uplifted by God’s grace. However, there are those people who enjoy what we do for the musical content alone and that’s cool.”
“They sing gospel in a jazz style and that’s what makes them popular with people who don’t even listen to gospel music,” says Steve Langley, who founded the Washington, D.C.-based a cappella group Reverb, after being inspired by Take 6. Group member Russell Jeter, III, added “Their sound gave me a new perspective on gospel music.” Langley continued, “There were many a cappella groups before Take 6, but what made them different was that they were young.”
McKnight, a natural baritone, formed Take 6 with fellow students at Oakwood College, a small Seventh Day Adventist School in Huntsville, Alabama in 1980. If the name McKnight sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because his little brother Brian McKnight has taken the music industry by storm. He once considered joining Take 6, but snagged his own record deal when he was 19.
The current roster of Take 6 also includes Alvin Chea, who sings bass in the group. He originally trained as a classical pianist and has communications and English degrees. Cedric Dent, baritone, holds a PhD in music theory from the University of Maryland. Mark Kibble, second voice part from the top, has a B.S in Business Administration; his brother Joey joined the group in 1991. The sixth member, David Thomas, sings either third or fourth from the top and is a former chemical engineering student.
Together, they make the spirit of the holiday season come alive on their latest CD. It presents eleven traditional songs including The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on An Open Fire) arranged by Brian McKnight and Let It Snow with saxophonist Kirt Whalum. They deliver Go Tell It on The Mountain, straight from their souls and create an atmosphere of holiday cheer in this reviewer’s house.