The Manhattan Transfer was founded in 1969 by Tim Hauser, a singer with a love of rhythm and blues and an ear for tight harmonies. The group underwent several lineup changes before 1978, when Mr. Hauser, Alan Paul and Janis Siegel were joined by Cheryl Bentyne. This quartet performed together for the next 35 years. Trist Curliss joined the group following Mr. Hauser’s death in 2014.
Their first hit, “Operator,” was released in 1975, followed by “The Boy From New York City” in 1981, when they made history as the first group to win Grammy Awards in both Pop and Jazz categories in the same year. The 12 Grammy nominations they received for their album Vocalese in 1985 is second only to Michael Jackson’s Thriller as most nominated album, and cemented the group’s status as one of the most important and innovative vocal groups in the history of popular music.
“Route 66” and their rendition of “Birdland” remain among the most beloved of their recordings, which include 19 singles and 29 albums. With worldwide record sales in the millions, their melodic and jazz-infused vocals continue to attract audiences spanning generations.
TAKE 6 has come a long way since their days at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, where Claude McKnight formed the group as The Gentleman’s Estate Quartet in 1980. When tenor Mark Kibble heard the group rehearsing in the dorm bathroom, he joined in the harmonies and performed on stage with them that night. Mr. Kibble later invited Mervyn Warren to join the group, now a sextet performing under the moniker Alliance.
The group performed in local churches and on campus, with members changing due to college’s inevitable comings and goings. In 1985, the lower half of the group (bass, baritone, and second tenor) left upon graduating. At that time, Alvin Chea, Cedric Dent, and David Thomas joined.
The group was signed to Warner Brothers in 1987, and quickly changed its name to TAKE 6 after a name search revealed Alliance was in use. Says McKnight: “TAKE 6 was all about a democratic process of throwing a couple of hundred names at each other and TAKE 6 was the one that got the most yay votes. It pretty much was a play on the Take 5 jazz standard and the fact that there are six of us in the group.”
Since release of their first self-titled album in 1988, TAKE 6 has been recognized as the quintessential a cappella group in virtually every genre. And they are certainly the most rewarded, with 10 Grammys, 10 Dove Awards (Gospel Music Awards), seven consecutive years as DownBeat magazine’s Critic’s and Reader’s Poll Best Jazz Vocal Group, a Soul Train Music Award, Black Radio Exclusive Vocal Group of the Year, and induction into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. Heralded by Quincy Jones as the “Baddest vocal cats on the planet!” TAKE 6 – now comprised of Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, Joel Kibble, Dave Thomas, Alvin Chea and Khristian Dentley – captivates audiences wherever they perform.