National Music Council Honors Take 6 and Music Educators of America With Annual American Eagle Awards

July 19, 2021 — The National Music Council honored iconic a cappella group Take 6, and in an unprecedented move, presented the prestigious American Eagle Award to all music educators across America for their extraordinary service during the pandemic, at the organization’s 37th annual ceremony on Thursday, July 15 at Summer NAMM in Nashville.  The honors are presented each year in recognition of those who have made long-term contributions to American musical culture, to showcase the ideal of music education for all children, and to support the protection of creators’ rights both locally and internationally. This year’s ceremonies also included a special tribute to the health care community for their heroic work during the pandemic.

The most honored a cappella group in history, Take 6 has been heralded by Quincy Jones as the “Baddest vocal cats on the planet!”  With 10 Grammy Awards, 10 Dove Awards, 2 NAACP Image Awards, a Soul Train Award, and more, Take 6 (Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, Joel Kibble, Dave Thomas, Alvin Chea and Khristian Dentley) continues year after year to bring extraordinary vocal performances to their worldwide audiences. Jim Ed Norman, who originally signed the group to Warner Records, presented the award, “in recognition of the group’s unique contribution to the artistry, development, and appreciation of vocal music in America, and for their pioneering work as ambassadors of American music to music students and music fans across the world.” In accepting the honor, members of the group lauded their past music teachers, and the tremendous impact they had on their lives and careers. The group then launched into their acclaimed rendition of  Nat “King” Cole’s and Irving Mills “Straighten Up and Fly Right.”

The Council likewise took great pride in collectively extending the coveted American Eagle Award to all of the nation’s music educators for their outstanding efforts to “keep the music playing” during the Covid-19 pandemic. Songwriters Rick and Janis Carnes presented the award, saying “In recognition of your courageous and selfless dedication to preserving music education during the 2020-21 global health pandemic. Your determination to carry on for your students is a lesson in perseverance that will forever benefit the young musicians and creators you served, and inspire every future generation of music educators. The two then performed a musical tribute to the teachers with a new song written for the occasion. Nashville music educator Franklin Willis accepted the award on behalf of nation’s music teachers, with representative teachers from each state joining via Zoom. Music teachers across the country can download a personalized and printable certificate of the honor at

Concluding the program was a special thank you and tribute to front line health workers, who worked tirelessly and with great sacrifice throughout the pandemic.

Songwriter Eddie Schwartz gave a video introduction, with Janis and Rick Carnes performing his “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” (with a new “COVID” verse), joined by Take 6 and Franklin Willis.

The presentation also included video thank you messages to music teachers gathered last year by the NMC from diverse artists from across the country including Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Paul Shaffer, Rosanne Cash, John Rich (Big & Rich), Jim Lauderdale, Steve Winwood, Nile Rodgers (Chic), Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Take 6, and the late Chick Corea – along with Country Music Television’s “Next Women of Country” Class of 2021 group Chapel Hart and up and coming singer-songwriter Paige King Johnson, all offer inspirational words throughout the video.

This year’s honorees join a “who’s – who” of musical giants whose careers and works have been previously awarded the American Eagle, including Stephen Sondheim, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Clive Davis, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Morton Gould, Dave Brubeck, Marian Anderson, Max Roach, Lena Horne, Roy Clark, Crystal Gale, George Clinton, Ervin Drake, Theo Bikel, Vince Guaraldi, Roberta Peters, Odetta, Patti Smith, Sesame Street, Hard Rock Café, and VH1’s Save the Music Foundation. Tickets for this event are available to the general public, and the entire ceremonies will be Livestreamed via

For more information, visit or contact NMC Director David Sanders at

Proceeds from the event support the National Music Council’s music education advocacy efforts.

The National Music Council

The Congressionally-chartered National Music Council is celebrating its 81st year as a forum for the free discussion of this country’s national music affairs and challenges. Founded in 1940 to act as a clearinghouse for the joint opinion and decision of its members and to work to strengthen the importance of music in our lives and culture, the Council’s initial membership of 13 has grown to almost 50 national music organizations, encompassing every important form of professional and commercial musical activity. Through the cooperative work of its member organizations, the National Music Council promotes and supports music and music education as an integral part of the curricula in the schools of our nation, and in the lives of its citizens. The Council provides for the exchange of information and coordination of efforts among its member organizations and speaks with one voice for the music community whenever an authoritative expression of opinion is desirable.


Franklyn Ellis accepts the award on behalf of American Music Teachers

Take 6 Performs