The 10-time Grammy and Dove Award-winning a capella group Take 6 is back like they never left. Known for blending gospel, jazz, and R&B as effortlessly as they harmonize with each other, the sextet — made up of Alvin Chea, Khristian Dentley, Joey Kibble, Mark Kibble, Claude V. McKnight III, and David Thomas – have been crystallizing their unique sound since before their first album was released in 1988. Since they have mastered the art of singing as one voice, it’s no wonder, then, that the men of Take 6 –– have titled their latest album “One.”
Dropping on March 27, “One” features Stevie Wonder as both songwriter and soloist on the soulful track, “Can’t Imagine Love Without You.” Ebony.com caught up with two members of the multi-platinum selling group, Claude McKnight and Joey Kibble, who shared what it takes to last in the music industry for nearly 30 years.
EBONY: Take 6 has been together for decades. How would you say you have grown in your sound and as a group?
Claude V. McKnight, III: I think as far as the sound is concerned, it has gone hand-in-hand with growing as a group, the better we know each other spiritually, mentally and emotionally, the better we know what works and we can highlight what each person brings to the group. We didn’t know that maybe 10, 15, 20 years ago. As this family evolves, we know how to come together and get what we really need from each other.
Joey Kibble: It hasn’t always been a tight-knit group; that’s been something that has been built over time. You’re going to have conflict and get on each other’s nerves, fight and even throw punches, but you have to actually learn to get along and respect each other’s different approaches. That’s an art. And that’s why the name of our album is called One — all six of us have grown into one person with one unified goal.
EBONY: You’ve definitely gone back to your old-school, gospel roots on your latest album. What's the message you're trying to convey through your new songs?
Joey Kibble: That God loves you. [For] pretty much our entire career, we’ve been singing about the love of God and every project [we’ve done] has all really been about sharing that love of God with people. We could’ve chosen a different path but we’ve always gravitated back to what is inherently inside of each of us. That makes it easy because it’s real for us.
EBONY: You've got Stevie Wonder featured on this album, in the song "Can't imagine love without you." Tell us something we would be surprised to know about Stevie.
JK: Stevie is very spontaneous. We were about to perform with him [at a Vh1 show] back in the day, and we’d rehearsed our song with the band and we’re all standing behind the curtain and as the curtain was going up Stevie decided he wanted to do the song a capella and said, ‘forget the band!’ And praise God we were able to pull off the song. But Stevie does his best work under pressure, at the last minute. He’s amazing like that.
EBONY: With the success of NBC's a cappella singing competition, "The Sing-Off," people can really see what talent singers have to have in order to sing without the help of auto-tune or even instruments. Do you feel like there is a new space or you all to capture a younger audience?
CM: I look at it this way, people always played golf and then Tiger Woods came along made everybody watch it. But if you happened to be playing alongside of him, you got some shine too. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’re always grateful when something new comes along that exposes our work to a bigger audience. It helps all of us. A capella won’t ever go out of style.
EBONY: Your 1990 song, "Come Unto Me," is still in heavy rotation on my iPod. What are your all-time favorite Take 6 songs?
JK: “Lamb of God,” “Family of Love,” of course, “Come Unto Me,” and “He Never Sleeps” from the first project. I also like the original arrangement that we did with “Spread Love.”
CM: The song, “Setembro,” that we did for Quincy Jones’s c.d., “Back on the Block,” has always been one of my favorite songs, period. That, I believe, was Sarah Vaughn’s last recording, and Ella Fitzgerald and so many other legends are on that song. It’s a beautiful song written by Ivan Lins.
EBONY: You’ve won Grammys and a host of other awards. You’ve performed for sitting Presidents at the White House throughout your storied career. What do you hope to achieve with this album?
JK: The sky is the limit when it comes to that. We want to continue to uplift those who decide to listen to our music, and whatever door is opened after that is a possibility we want to pursue. We are open to all possibilities.
CM: And we want people to continue on this journey with us. We wanted to “Spread Love,” and that’s what we continue to do.