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Take 6 joins the Boston Pops for Gospel Night

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Take 6 joins the Boston Pops for Gospel Night
Vocal group Take 6 PHOTO: John Abbott

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The Boston Pops season closes this month with a soulful celebration of gospel music and Black artistry. Gospel Night, conducted by Charles Floyd with choir direction by Dennis L. Slaughter, promises an evening of classic and contemporary songs performed by the Boston Pops Gospel Choir and an energetic opening performance by the a cappella group Take 6.

Comprising Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, Joel Kibble, Dave Thomas, Alvin Chea and Khristian Dentley, Take 6 has won 10 Grammy Awards, 10 Dove Awards, 2 NAACP Image Awards and many other accolades. The group is known for its fusion of jazz, spirituals and gospel melodies.

The Boston Pops Gospel Choir at Symphony Hall for Gospel Night, 2023. PHOTO: Robert Torres

McKnight says the group hasn’t performed with the Boston Pops since the early 1990s, so they’re due for a reunion.

“This particular show with the symphony will be all gospel-inflected, so that will be very special for us,” he says. “We have a great time with symphonies because we’re primarily an a cappella group — so to add instrumentation just rounds everything out for us.”

On Gospel Night, audiences will hear several Take 6 originals, including “Over the Hill Is Home,” and “Lullaby,” a composition by Brazilian songwriter Ivan Lins and Chea of Take 6. The core of Gospel Night is stirring music and powerful voices, but the evening also serves as an opportunity to celebrate Black talent in the historically inequitable classical music space.

Audience members clap along at last year’s Gospel Night. PHOTO: Robert Torres

Off the stage, Take 6 is working on their first-ever purely jazz album. Though they frequently use jazz melodies and the occasional standard, this album channels the authentic jazz-age spirit of Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. It will be their first album release since “ICONIC” in 2018.

Although the jazz songs will be classic, McKnight says the album will be infused with the classic Take 6 spin. A lot of that unique sound, he explains, has to do with the way the members work together. “With the six-part harmony and the arrangements of Mark Kibble, who is basically the sound of Take 6, we have what we consider to be almost Big-Band-type arrangements, where we can get away with a lot of things vocally,” he says.

That six-part harmony and the special spice it brings to standard compositions will be on full display on Gospel Night.

The Gospel Night show is Saturday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Symphony Hall. Tickets range from $34 to $100. McKnight hopes that the music performed at Gospel Night has a deep, positive impact on the audience.

“We’re just trying to make a better day for people, a better night for people,” he says. “That’s what we want people to leave there with, the idea that we have spread love to and with them.”

arts, Boston Pops, Boston Pops Gospel Choir, Gospel night, music, Take 6