Hangin’ Out with Claude McKnight
About the Show
Claude V. McKnight III was born on October 2, 1962 in Brooklyn, NY to Claude Jr. and Elaine. He was the first of four boys (the others being Fred, Mike, and Brian). He lived and grew up primarily in Buffalo, NY. He got his earliest musical influences in Buffalo, mostly from his grandfather (Fred Willis Sr.) who was the choir director at his church. His earliest musical memories are from going to rehearsal with his mom every Friday night. He was able to learn parts and harmonize and see how his grandfather was able to lead a group of people.
He decided in the fourth grade that he would learn to play the trombone, but found it very combersome for a fourth grader! But playing the trombone enabled him to start getting his ear trained for what he would do later.
He played trombone throughout high school, and after his sophomore year his family moved to Orlando, Florida, where he continued to play and sing in the chorus. At that time one of his goals was to play in the Tonight Show band with Doc Severinson! He also played basketball in school, and upon graduation had to make the choice of going to school to play ball or to pursue music. Interestingly enough, he chose to go to Oakwood College in Huntsville, AL (where his parents also went), which was not a school known for either its instrumental program or its athletics.
One of the first things he did during his freshman year was to put together a freshman quartet, singing mostly barbershop style harmonies. The legendary story goes that Mark Kibble came into a bathroom where they were rehearsing and added a fifth part to what they were doing, and subsequently joined the group. From there, Mervyn Warren joined the group, making it a sextet. They knew they had something special from the very beginning. Over the years, people came and went from the group, but from 1985 the group has had primarily the same lineup, apart from Joey Kibble replacing Mervyn Warren in 1991.
In addition to starting Take 6, he has also been involved in producing, writing, and doing voice-over work, having recently signed with ICM.