*Tenor Claude McKnight, founder of the a cappella sextet “Take 6” took time to talk with this writer concerning his participation in the Festival of Praise Tour, a 48-city tour now inits 4th year. He and his fellow Take 6 members comprised of arranger and tenor Mark Kibble; Alvin Chea, bass, Joey Kibble, tenor; baritone Khristian Dentley and David Thomas, tenor, join fellow performers Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, James Fortune and Pastor Charles Jenkins at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx, NY, on Sunday, April 29th at 6:00 p.m., for the show titled Texture of a Man, which promises to be an evening of soul-stirring music.
“I started a quartet known as Alliance when I was a freshman at Oakwood University, a 7th Day Adventist school in Huntsville, Ala. It became a quintet when Mark Kibble joined and then we added an additional person making it a sextet. We eventually became “Take 6.” So essentially the group consists of 4 tenors, a baritone and a bass. All of us play instruments: keyboard, guitar, trombone, etc. But we decided we wanted our group to be primarily a cappella. The voice, after all, is the most perfect instrument there is, so that is what we wanted our group to represent. We have one of the best vocal arrangers on the planet in Mark Kibble. He uses all the elements of music in an a cappella setting and he is able to get all the arrangements done in a way that hopefully audiences don’t miss the instruments they are used to hearing.”
The multiple GRAMMY, Dove, Soul Train, and NAACP Image awards and nominations the group received over the years acknowledged Take 6 as the Best Jazz Vocal Group in Downbeat’s prestigious Reader’s and Critic’s Poll. Their 2016 release Believe, reached the top ten for both the gospel and jazz charts which included songs such as “Reset” and “You Make Me Happy”, as well as their inspirational song “When Angels Cry.” The group started off singing spiritual songs and then they began writing their own material. They do styles like R&B. Jazz. Pop, and doo-wop.
“Our latest release “Iconic” is due out April 27, 2018. We will be featuring songs like Debarge’s “All This Love” on the new album. Also, the single from it is an Eric Clapton tune “Change the World.” Jeffrey Osborne’s “Back in Love,” is featured, and the Earth, Wind & Fire version of the Beatles, “I Got to Get You Into My Life,” are all iconic songs that will be on our latest release” claimed McKnight.
Grammy, Stellar and Dove Award winning gospel singer, songwriter, filmmaker, multi-gold and platinum winner and producer Fred Hammond joined in the conversation to talk about the Festival of Praise, Texture of a Man 2018 concert tour which he put together. He has sold over 15 million albums worldwide which includes 12 #1 hits. His songs include “Are You Ready” “One More Try,” “Just to be Close to You” and “No Weapons.” Born in San Antonio, Tx, Hammond spent most of his growing up and adult years in Detroit, Michigan but has spent the last 12 years in Dallas, TX.
“I sang, but primarily mimicked people. My mother convinced me if I really sang I could sound like Michael Jackson. I was shy and didn’t want to be a singer but listened to all the great Motown stars. I only wanted to play a bass or be a drummer. But one day, around 12 or 13 years old, I felt the calling to witness. Later, an opening came up with the Winans. They were putting a band together. I worked with them for 3 years and then started my own group Commissioned and just kept on evolving,” claimed Hammond.
Fred Hammond co-wrote and directed the smash hit musical drama “Been There, Done That” with TV Judge, Greg Mathis. He worked on the hit plays “Only the Strong” and the 2013 Broadway smash “Cain and Abel” with JD Lawrence. His edgy independent film, ‘The Choir” depicts the real-life things that goes on behind the scenes. Hammond’s last album was “Worship Journal Live” but he is about to put out a new CD entitled “Uncle Fred.”
“The Texture of a Man,” Festival of Praise show is really a musical, explained the producer. “It’s a gospel, worship and Praise show. We are doing everything in the show but dancing. It’s several components of praise, worship, gospel, theater, drama and film. It is a story about relationships. I think people will really enjoy it,” said Hammond about the production.
Deardra Shuler has experience in theatre, music, concert promotion, television and publishing. She was affiliated with the Negro Ensemble Company and is a former manager of the children’s theatre,”TADA.” She has produced and promoted concerts in Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, and Radio City Music Hall.
Ms. Shuler is the former Editor and Managing Editor of three New York City minority newspapers. Presently, she is the Entertainment Editor of The Black Star News. As a freelance writer she writes for several New York City newspapers; including the Examiner, Amsterdam News and Eurweb.
Deardra freelances for Afrocentricnews in California. She is the former PR chairman for the FESPACO film festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa, and is presently program manager for BlakeRadio.com where she also hosts her own show “Topically Yours.”