It might be the parties. Or maybe it's the roasting of chestnuts. Or the caroling out in the snow. Whatever the reason, most people consider the holiday season to be the most wonderful time of the year. That's certainly the case among the members of Take 6, the a cappella group that has been mixing elements of jazz, gospel, R&B and vintage doo-wop for nearly 25 years. Winners of 10 GRAMMYR Awards, 10 Dove Awards, one Soul Train Award and two NAACP Image Awards, the group has made an indelible musical and cultural mark in the past quarter century – whatever the season.
Every member of this brilliant vocal team – Claude McKnight III, Mark Kibble, Joel Kibble, David Thomas, Dr. Cedric Dent and Alvin Chea – has held onto fond childhood memories of the holidays and made them a part of their adult lives. The timeless magic is very much a part of the their new holiday CD, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, a collection of seasonal favorites that are as heartwarming as a crackling fire and a festooned evergreen.
The primary objective in the making of the album was to create a sense of familiarity, says McKnight, who founded Take 6 in the '80s with some classmates from Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama. "We wanted all the songs on this album to be the kind that people would hear and say, 'Oh, yeah, I sing that at Christmas time,'" he says. "We each picked songs that we sing with our families every year at the holidays… We just wanted to make a record that would, for most people, just put out a really cool, all-around Christmas vibe."
Mark Kibble, who arranged six of the album's ten tracks, focused on keeping things simple, yet incorporating some of the harmonic spin that has become the Take 6 trademark. "The basic idea was to just let the Christmas melody ring through, and present it in a way that's interesting but still familiar," he says. "You shouldn't have to bend your ear too hard to enjoy a Christmas song. It should take you right back to those early Christmases when you were a child."
In the end, says Kibble, accessibility was the overriding objective in crafting these holiday tracks. "We wanted to record songs that were simple enough so that anybody listening could follow the melodies and sing along," he says, "and yet still be ourselves and give a little bit of the harmonic backdrop that Take 6 is known for."
This holiday season, when there's much mistloeing and hearts are glowing when loved ones are near, sit back with Take 6 and enjoy The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.