Thursday, June 23, 2005

Gospel Gal Sees Take 6!

There’s someone like this at every concert: You know, the person who knows every song that’s being performed and sings along. When the performers are introducing a song, she guesses ahead of time which one it’s going to be and stage whispers it to her neighbor. She’s excited with every new song and occasionally leaves her seat to get a photo. IR-I-TAT-ING.

I never understood this concertgoer until Saturday, when I became her. This wouldn’t happen anyplace other than a Take 6 concert.

Take 6 is my favorite group of all time. No ands, ifs or buts. My very favorite. The first “real” cassette my parents bought me was Take 6’s eponymous debut. (I think the other two were Sandi Patty’s Another Time, Another Place and Amy Grant’s Heart in Motion.) Since then, I’ve been a diehard fan—even sticking with them through the Join the Band and Brothers years. Hey, once I become a fan, I’m a committed one. And, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s not Christmas until I’ve listened to their arrangement of “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” (and “O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion”).

I’ve had more than a few friendships that I can trace directly to a shared enjoyment of Take 6. I can sing the soprano note or lead on most of their songs, most of the way through. I am known to be personally offended if I think other acapella groups are trying too hard to sound like Take 6 (resisting--urge--to--name--names).

For all of this, I’d never seen Take 6 perform live (of course, I have the Live album, but still, no substitute). Whenever I check their website, my impression is usually that there aren’t many dates in the U.S.—and never any near me. I figured this is because the jazz scene is more lively overseas. Anyway, last Monday when I read that they’d be performing Saturday at Kansas City’s Rhythm and Ribs Festival, I knew I was going to find a way to be there. (Barbecue? Live music outdoors? American Jazz Museum? Take 6? Count me in.)

I’ve interviewed and met some cool artists, and can’t think of too many times I’ve really been starstruck. But I thought there was a real risk here. If my life had a soundtrack, most of it would be their music. So that is the line I’d prepared to share with them if there was an autograph table. I figured it was pleasant, lightly poetic, and appreciative without being too gushy. It’s also true.

Anyway, I was really, really impressed by the energy and joy they brought to their performance (although, as I said, I brought enough of my own!). When you think about it, they’ve been singing many of these songs for 17 years, yet their stage presence seemed easy and relaxed without feeling sloppy or tired.

It felt like they were singing all of my favorite songs. The set included “So Much 2 Say,” “Something Within Me,” “Smile,” “Oh, Mary, Don’t You Weep,” “My Friend,” “Fly Away,” “Grandma’s Hands,” “Wade in the Water” and “Over the Hill Is Home.”

There wasn’t an autograph table, but Alvin, David, Claude and Joey came to the side of the stage afterward to sign people’s programs. I’d tucked my copy of Beautiful World in my backpack, and it now bears the signatures of “Take 4.” Anyway, maybe there will be a next time, and Mark and Cedric can sign it then. Then, maybe I'll remember my line. Or better yet, they can all sign my copy of the album they’ve got coming out this fall! I can’t wait.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll download a Take 6 ringtone for my phone. It seems like something a loyal fan should at least think about . . .

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