Take 6: “When Angels Cry”: A Call to Humanity

Right now, my imagination draws me into a conversation with some African American men folk; we are talking about a song I have just experienced by the group: I am having a God moment as Take 6 sings “When Angels Cry.” I am trying to hold on to the “light of love”; I am begging it not to leave.

My fingers move meditatively across my lap-top. There is no quick dance across the key-board. The song’s lyrics transport me to highway 80 in Alabama. I am sitting on the steps of an old shack. I hold “When Angels Cry” in my mind. There is purpose in this song; it is begging humans to know humanity.

Yes, angels do “. . . cry when innocence is shattered.”

Talking about God moments. I am having a God moment as I hold on deeply and dearly to the memory “of all the innocence that has died and is dying.”

Holy moments are like bridges—this holy moment is my bridge into the who of Take 6.

I talk: The narrative of this group is legendary. It’s 1980. Picture this—Oakwood University; sixty-five Oak trees; Oakwood, a former slave plantation birthed in vision by an uneducated white woman from Maine. Take 6’s story began officially at the Gentlemen’s Estates i.e., just some old trailers that served as the male dorm on the campus. The original name of the group was Gentlemen’s Quartet, then Alliance; in 1987, the group’s name was officially changed to Take 6. Hear the call of purpose!

I listen as “angels cry.”

I talk to myself: The jazz-styled religious acapella sound is grounded in a profound commitment to Christian ethos, the Seventh-day Adventist musical tradition, and African, African-West Indian, and African American cultures.

I talk to myself: Take 6 is a testimonial brand. “When Angels Cry” is beautiful in its lonely reflection and longing for a world free of the killing of the innocent and innocence. What a blues sensibility. Mixing the improvisational style found in African-American classical music, i.e., jazz with the soul-stirring authenticity of their personal narratives, Take 6 has crossed musical, spiritual, religious borders. What emerges in this integration of hymns, rhythm and blues, gospel, jazz, and the African American spiritual and the personal narratives of these men folk is a reframing of the Seventh-day Adventist church’s musical narrative that testifies of the group’s blues sensibility. My imagination understands the blues sensibility acknowledges the way in which individuals or groups respond to, and/or perceive life as a result of the brutal, sometimes vicious, sometimes weary milieu created out of sorrowful circumstances . . . This sensibility stirs testimony. “When Angels Cry” is a testimony.

I listen: Our ultimate purpose is “to be a light in the world, not just a light in the church world.” “We have more places for the soles of our feet to tread,” says Alvin Chia.

In my imagination, I am inviting you into a musical reminder of the need to live human. I invite you to know Take 6 and “When Angels Cry.”

Be well humanity, be well, and pick up your “faith!”

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