In the vast landscape of musical artistry, few groups have achieved the level of harmonic mastery and vocal precision exhibited by the extraordinary ensemble known as Take 6. Formed in 1980 on the campus of Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, Take 6 has not only redefined the possibilities of a cappella music but has also left an indelible mark on the realms of jazz, R&B, and gospel. In this exploration, we delve into the intricate tapestry of Take 6’s journey, celebrating their unparalleled vocal artistry, innovative arrangements, and enduring impact.
Roots in Harmony: The Genesis of Take 6
Take 6 emerged from the shared passion and musical camaraderie of its original members—Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, Joey Kibble, David Thomas, Alvin Chea, and Cedric Dent. United by their love for a cappella singing, these talented vocalists came together with a shared vision to push the boundaries of vocal music. Their name, Take 6, is a nod to the sixth scale degree often used in jazz and gospel harmony.
A Cappella Innovation: Redefining Vocal Possibilities
Take 6’s pioneering approach to a cappella music distinguishes them as trailblazers in the genre. Traditionally, a cappella groups might consist of four or five voices, but Take 6, with its six members, introduced a level of complexity and depth that set them apart. Their ability to produce a full, rich sound without instrumental accompaniment showcased the true extent of their vocal prowess.
Jazz Roots and Gospel Soul: The Take 6 Sound
At the heart of Take 6’s distinctive sound is a fusion of jazz harmonies, gospel soul, and R&B sensibilities. Drawing inspiration from a wide range of musical traditions, the group crafted a style that transcends genre boundaries. Their intricate vocal arrangements, characterized by tight harmonies, inventive phrasing, and impeccable intonation, became the hallmark of the Take 6 sound.
Self-Titled Debut: A Harmonic Revelation
In 1988, Take 6 released their self-titled debut album, a monumental work that garnered critical acclaim and introduced the world to their revolutionary approach to a cappella music. The album featured a mix of original compositions and reimagined classics, showcasing the group’s versatility and ability to breathe new life into familiar tunes.
Grammy Glory: Take 6’s Stairway to Success
Take 6’s impact was swiftly recognized on a grand scale, earning them critical accolades and prestigious awards. Their eponymous debut album secured two Grammy Awards, marking the beginning of a remarkable journey of success and acclaim. The accolades were not only a testament to Take 6’s technical proficiency but also to their ability to connect with audiences on a profound emotional level.
Influential Collaborations: Joining Forces with Musical Icons
As Take 6 continued to ascend, they found themselves collaborating with some of the most influential names in the music industry. Their collaboration with legendary jazz vocalist Al Jarreau on the album “We Are the World: A 2020 Celebration” showcased their ability to seamlessly blend their harmonies with the voices of other iconic artists. Take 6’s collaborative spirit and adaptability allowed them to make enduring contributions to the musical landscape.
Spiritual Resonance: Gospel Roots and Inspirational Impact
Rooted in gospel traditions, Take 6’s music carries a spiritual resonance that transcends the confines of any particular genre. Their ability to infuse a sense of reverence and soulful spirituality into their performances has resonated with audiences around the world. Take 6’s gospel roots serve as the foundation for their enduring message of hope, love, and unity.
Chart-Topping Success: Navigating Mainstream Recognition
Take 6’s journey into mainstream success continued with albums like “So Much 2 Say” (1990) and “Join the Band” (1994). Their innovative covers of popular songs, including “Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia and “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” showcased their ability to reinvent well-known tunes while maintaining the integrity of the original compositions.
Take 6 and Quincy Jones: A Collaboration of Legends
A defining moment in Take 6’s career came with their collaboration with legendary producer Quincy Jones on the album “Back on the Block” (1989). The album, a celebration of the history and diversity of African American music, featured Take 6 on the track “Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me).” The collaboration with Jones not only affirmed Take 6’s status as musical innovators but also exposed them to a broader audience.
Grammy Legacy: A Stairway to Heaven
Take 6’s relationship with the Grammy Awards continued to flourish, earning them numerous accolades over the years. With multiple Grammy wins across various categories, including Best Jazz Vocal Performance and Best Gospel Album, Take 6 has left an indelible mark on the prestigious music awards.
Global Impact: Touring the World and Inspiring Audiences
Take 6’s influence extends far beyond the borders of the United States. Their extensive touring schedule has taken them to concert halls and festivals around the world, where their harmonies have resonated with diverse audiences. Whether performing in the intimate setting of a jazz club or on the grand stage of an international music festival, Take 6’s ability to connect with listeners remains a testament to the universal language of music.
Evolution and Continuity: A Legacy Unfolding
Throughout their illustrious career, Take 6 has continued to evolve and adapt, incorporating new influences and styles into their music. From their early days as pioneers of a cappella jazz to their later explorations in R&B and beyond, the group has maintained a commitment to musical excellence while staying true to their core identity.
Educational Advocacy: Nurturing Future Generations
Beyond their role as performers, Take 6 has been active advocates for music education. The group has conducted workshops and educational programs, passing on their knowledge and passion for vocal music to aspiring musicians. Their commitment to nurturing the next generation of vocalists reflects a desire to see the tradition of harmonious excellence continue for years to come.
Conclusion: Take 6’s Unending Symphony
As we traverse the melodic journey of Take 6, it becomes evident that their impact goes far beyond their vocal prowess. They are architects of harmony, sculptors of sound, and ambassadors of a musical tradition that transcends time and genre. With each note and each performance, Take 6 continues to create an unending symphony—a legacy of innovation, inspiration, and the enduring power of voices united in harmony. Whether on stage, in the studio, or within the hearts of their listeners, Take 6’s symphony resonates as a testament to the boundless possibilities of a cappella artistry.