MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
For the next half-hour we will give our thanks with music. Your radio will make a joyful noise because I'm here in Nashville, Tennessee with what Quincy Jones calls the baddest vocal cats on the planet.
Take 6 is a gospel group with more than 20 years of history and eight Grammy's to its name. Take 6 is Alvin Chea, Cedric Dent, David Thomas, Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, and Joel Kibble.
Thanks to all of you for being here. Welcome.
TAKE 6 (Gospel Group): Thank you.
NORRIS: Now any group of guys that's been together for 20 years must have fantastic stories to tell and I can't wait to hear many of them. But first, let's hear some music.
Unidentified Man #1: Indeed.
NORRIS: What are we going to listen to?
Unidentified Man #2: This is Another Day. This is a song by Andre Crouch that we decided to redo and it's so wonderful for this time of year.
NORRIS: And you've made it your own?
Unidentified Man #3: That's right.
NORRIS: Okay. Well, let's listen.
Unidentified Man #4: Give us an F sharp.
(Soundbite of piano note)
Unidentified Man #5: There it is.
(Soundbite of song, "This is Another Day")
TAKE 6: (Singing) Du-ba-do-do. Mmm. Du-ba-do-do. Oh. Du-ba-do-do. Oh. Oh. Oh. Thank you Lord. Thank you for one more day. This is another day the Lord has given me. Do-do-do. Oh. This is another day he loves me. Do-do-do. And I know he's going to keep me until I feel safe again. Yeah, yeah. And this is another day, another day, the Lord's given me. Oh sister. Another day he's sent me.
He gives me (unintelligible) in my mind and I know-ow-ow that he'll keep me until he returns again. Yeah, yeah. I've never felt like I couldn't make it. I didn't have the strength to go. Troubles in your mind always got you down. You cried, oh Lord what shall I do. You tried to be non-dependent on your feelings. Your true sense is God's word.
He will keep me until I feel safe again. Another day the Lord gives me. Oh. Another day he give me. And the Lord is going to keep me until I feel safe again.
You couldn't make it up. Never afraid to go, oh no. Always got you down. God knows what should I do. Stop. Oh. Stop depending on your feelings and start trusting His word. I'm persuaded he'll keep me.
He'll never leave me until I'm feeling safe. This is another day. Oh, oh. Do-do. Da-da-da. Do-do. Da-da-da. Yeah, yeah. This is another day the Lord's given me. This is another day he's given me. One more day. One more day. Just another day. One more day he's got me.
This is another day the Lord has got me. Oh. This is another day. Oh, well you'll never make thine own. One more day the Lord has got me. One more day he's got me. I walk with the Lord. One more day the Lord has got me. Yes, you did. Another day he's got me. One more day the Lord has got me. My, oh my. One more day the Lord has got me.
Oh, yes you did. Oh, Lord. He got me. I'm going to make it one more day Lord. Another day. Another day. Another day. Yes you did. Oh, oh, oh. Yes, you did. Yes, you did. One more day oh Lord. Another day. Another day. Another day. One more day. Oh, oh. Another day. Another day. One more day.
I said another day. One more day. Make it for another day. One more day. Make it for another day. One more day. I said another day. One more day. I said another, another, another, another, another, another, another, another, day. One more day. One more day. Another day. Day.
Unidentified Man #6: Okay. Can we do that one more time?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Unidentified Man #1: Getting warmed up.
Unidentified Man #2: Getting ready to go.
NORRIS: We're here giving thanks and getting happy in Nashville, Tennessee, with Take 6. Now, for many people when they think about gospel music they think about music to reach for in tough times. Music that helps you get over - to get to the other side. But this is very much a song of praise. You put food on my table. You put clothes on my back. And thank you for being there when I needed you the most.
So it's so appropriate for today.
Unidentified Man #6: Absolutely.
Mr. DAVID THOMAS (Take 6): A lot of times - this is Dave speaking - a lot of times it's that spirit of praise that helps you get in the mood and gets that spirit going, your own spirit. And that's what carries you through. That's kind of what we're talking about.
NORRIS: Did you all grow up listening to a cappella groups in the household?
Unidentified Man #1: Yes.
Mr. ALVIN CHEA (Take 6): This is Alvin. There's a group that we all listened to. Well, there's a lot of different groups, but one of them in particular was called A Breath of Life Quartet. And those guys, I mean, if we start right now, we could all knock out their arrangements any -
(Soundbite of music)
TAKE 6: (Unintelligible)
Mr. CHEA: We do that all the time. So -
NORRIS: And that was on your first CD.
Mr. CHEA: That was their arrangement, but we all grew up listening to those guys. And they've been like our godfathers in the industry. So we all love the same music. Later during the years, we all discovered that - you heard that tune, too? Wasn't that great? Earth, Wind, wasn't that great? Stevie, wasn't that a great tune?
So we had like a similar taste.
NORRIS: Now you guys travel with all the instruments you need right there in your vocal chords. You never have to worry about checking baggage or hauling around cases. So I'd like you to open up some of your proverbial instrument cases and show us what you have. And Alvin, I'm going to begin with you.
Mr. CHEA: Okay. Well, if we could kindly get an F#.
NORRIS: Okay, I'm just going to whisper in over you. You can keep going.
Now, what you didn't see was Alvin had a hand up in the air as if he was playing a standing bass. Sitting next to him is Cedric. Cedric Dent, tell me about your instrument.
Mr. CEDRIC DENT (Take 6): Well, I usually sing baritone, but in this I also do a little percussion. So.
NORRIS: Okay, let's bring David Thomas into this. Dave?
(Soundbite of music)
Mr. THOMAS: (Singing) I sing second tenor in the group.
Mr. CLAUDE V. MCKNIGHT III (Take 6): All right. I'm Claude. I sing first tenor. A lot of times, though, when we're doing a little scatting thing, I'll bring out my trombone.
(Soundbite of music)
Unidentified Man #1: And when Claude's finished with his trombone, which is something that I usually have to wait on. I might come in with what might be considered a clarinet. And then I sing the second part from the top. Joey Kibble, take your -
(Soundbite of music)
Mr. JOEL KIBBLE (Member, Take 6): I'm Joey. Usually have to cut Mark off at the pass because he'll go all night if you let him. But I sing a mute trumpet, so when it comes around again, that's what I'm going to do.
(Soundbite of music)
Mr. KIBBLE: And we all sing -
TAKE 6: (Singing) (Unintelligible)
(Soundbite of laughter)
NORRIS: Now, I mentioned that Quincy Jones had some very nice things to say about you. You've also performed with Branford Marsalis, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, James Taylor and Ella Fitzgerald, and I could on and on and on but I want to stop the list right there. What did you learn from some of these musicians, these partnerships?
Mr. DENT: Well, this is Cedric speaking. One of our very first national tours after our first CD was released was with Al Gero and he was really influential from the standpoint of vocal percussion because he did a lot of that and we, going on just before him every night, we would finish our set and then step back and watch him. And he would do some of the most incredible stuff, you know, singing and doing his vocal percussion. So we started adopting some of that stuff into our performances and then over time it sort of developed into what people call beat boxing now.
So, I mean probably if you ask the other guys they can come up with similar stories from, you know, different experiences and people that we've worked with. We've picked up things from people along the way.
NORRIS: We need to take a short break. There's more with Take 6 and another song I hope just ahead on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
(Soundbite of music)
NORRIS: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris, back with the gospel group Take 6.
Now, I've read that you guys keep it together on stage and in the studio by making sure that you're sufficiently prayered up before a performance. What does that mean?
Mr. KIBBLE: Well this is Joey speaking. The power with which our songs or the message of those songs goes forth actually has a lot to do with the connection that we each have with Jesus Christ. And so it's important that we actually get all on the same page by having worship before we go out on stage. If nothing else, that worship experience takes everybody's mind off of themselves and puts it on God and that is the common denominator. That's the reason why we're still doing this now. It's the reason why we sing what we sing, why we've chosen to sing what we sing and it's what keeps us grounded while we're singing. God keeps us subdued and he causes us to be able to do what we do.
NORRIS: What I'm from you, it sounds like you can't do it unless you actually feel it.
Mr. CHEA: Absolutely. This is Alvin. A cappella music is a very intimate form of music. There's nothing to hide behind, and our prayer often is Lord, empty us of ourselves so that someone in the audience gets what they needed to get. And one day - we are Christian believers, we believe that we're actually going to see some of these people one day and they'll say I saw you guys in Paris in '99. I gave my life to Christ that night.
NORRIS: You've been singing a long time and I thought about this because I use my voice in what I do also. My speaking and broadcasting voice is very different now than it was a decade ago. You all have been at this for more than two decades now. How have your voices changed and how has that changed your music?
Mr. DENT: It's just a natural phenomenon with everybody. The older you get, your range just begins to drop. This is Cedric.
If you listen to early Sarah Vaughan and then you listen to recordings of her 30 years later, it's like night and day. It's two different people. Where we actually can take advantage of it is on our low end because his voice is dropping, too. Our base now ...
NORRIS: Alvin's voice.
Mr. DENT: Alvin's voice now is I would say almost a perfect fourth lower than where it was when we first started.
Mr. CHEA: I can vouch for that. It's the truth.
Mr. DENT: It's a joy sometimes when you write an arrangement and you don't think about it that way and all of a sudden he drops an octave on you and hits the same note an octave lower than where you first wrote it and you go, oh. Oh, my goodness. I love that.
NORRIS: Well, we have time for one more song. What's it going to be?
Mr. DENT: This is going to be "Feels Good." Two, three, four, one.
(Soundbite of song, "Feels Good")
TAKE 6: (Singing) Well, I always thought (unintelligible). I had to give (unintelligible). Walking around with a heavy load while my back was breaking under the strain. Then (unintelligible) came and told me I could be free. It sure feels good. Good. Yeah, Lord. Yeah, it sure feels good.
Life is short and you're moving fast. Got your wheels spinning out of control. Oh, Lord. I (unintelligible) headed for a crash when I learned I had to let it go. Right then I knew I couldn't (unintelligible) defeat as long as I was in the driver's seat. (Unintelligible) kind of rescued me and it sure feels good. Yeah, Lord. Yeah, it sure feels good. (Unintelligible)
Don't you know it feels good. So amazing. It feels good. (Unintelligible) It feels good. I don't know how You do it but it sure feels good. Sure feels good. Ever since I gave Him total control, changed my life as soon as I let go. Feels good having You in my life sure feels good.
Well, now I (unintelligible) where I go because my steps are laid out for me. Got a joy I never felt before because (unintelligible). Well, (unintelligible) look at my face, how it's a reflection of Your love and grace. You've got me dancing all over the place and it sure feels good. Feels good.
It feels good. So amazing. Feels good. Perfect love. Oh, it feels good. I don't know how You do it, but it sure feels good.
Well, can you hear me sing? Ever since I gave Him total control, changed my life as soon as I let go. It feels good. Having You in my life sure feels good.
God is (unintelligible) all the time (unintelligible). Oh yeah, it sure feels good. (Unintelligible) It sure feels good. Well, if you know me (unintelligible).
Don't you know it feels good. So amazing. It feels good. Perfect love. It feels good. I don't know how you do it but it sure feels good. Whoa.
Ever since I gave Him total control, changed my life as soon as I let go. It feels good. Having You in my life sure feels good. Yeah.
NORRIS: Now speaking of feeling good, what is Take 6 thankful for this Thanksgiving?
Mr. DENT: Yeah. This is Cedric. In a world where you find people, there's some people who don't have any family. I feel particularly thankful that I actually have two. The family that I go home to but then the family that I work with on the road. It really is a wonderful blessing.
Mr. CHEA: And did you say in a world? One man, two families. This is Alvin. I have a thank you to the guys. When we were in Japan they all prayed for one of my good, good, good friends and I just got word yesterday that Saturday he gave his life to Christ. Came down the aisle. And this is a guy that's been struggling with addictions and that kind of thing, and he got himself in a program right now and I look at that as a result of the prayers of these guys right here. So I want to thank them for that and the opportunity to be in this wonderful group.
NORRIS: Well, here's what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful that I had a chance to come here to Nashville and spend this time with you.
Mr. DENT: Thank you so much.
NORRIS: Thank you. The group is Take 6. The new CD is called Feels Good. I'm Michele Norris wishing you and your family a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News.