Exclusive with Claude McKnight of Take 6! On the road to recovery…from sexual addiction to redemption!
Claude McKnight is a member of the 10-time Grammy-winning group Take 6, an a capella Christian group who has seen great success as a crossover group on the jazz circuit. Despite his faith and his Seventh Day Adventist upbringing, McKnight – the older brother to R&B crooner Brian McKnight – found himself embroiled in a messy smear campaign by a former lover who was mad about more than just their romance ending.
In an exclusive conversation with DaGospelTruth.com, the forthright and surprisingly candid 47-year-old singer comes clean about what really happened and shared with me what he did to get help for what he describes as an issue bigger than just being a serial dater.
For a recap of the story go to www.dagospeltruth.com/?p=1172
This woman makes some really incredulous allegations against you. Are they true?
There are always three sides to every story; my side, your side and the truth. The truth is generally somewhere in between. I’m 47 now and my entire adult life I have been living way outside of God’s will until now. Within the last eight months or so that’s when all this came to a head. There are things about what’s been going on that are definitely true. Since some time has passed there have been embellishments. So anything you’ve seen or heard is nothing new. But, the Internet has a snowball effect and it becomes this massive thing. I’m not trying to gloss anything over or defend myself, but what I can say is that none of the allegations are true now. Anything anybody says about me today is different than what they could say about me eight months ago or even 20 years ago.
Did you borrow $34,000 and have you paid it back?
Yes, I borrowed the money. We were dating at the time and I needed a favor. There were a couple of projects that came up that were supposed to take care of the money I borrowed right away and that didn’t happen. When we were dating, giving me the money wasn’t a problem. It’s when the relationship ended that things went wrong. Everything is completely taken care of and she has been paid back in full.
So, did the relationship end because you were cheating on her with other women?
Absolutely! She had a reason to be upset with me, I’m not disputing that. Any women from my past probably have a valid reason to be upset with me. That’s why I started off saying, my entire adult life I was living a completely different life than what I was supposed to be living.
Have you spoken with her since everything has hit the fan?
No, I haven’t spoken to her for some time now. Although I know she has every right to be upset, I pray all the time that she will come to some sort of peace and be healed. But the way all this has come out is really illegal. My obligations have been taken care of, but because of how she went out about revealing this story; I have to repair my reputation. This doesn’t only affect me, but it affects my family and my group. Information was emailed to my family and friends that they didn’t need to see, so this wasn’t just about the money.
Do you think she was being vindictive?
I’ll let you answer that. I have to be careful about what I say now because what I’m learning is people’s perspective on things is so different. I could say blue to you and somebody else thought I said green and the next person will swear I said something totally different. I’m not trying to cast dispersions on her, but I have to repair what has gone on. If I say anything, I’m a jerk. If I don’t say anything it gets bigger and bigger and bigger.
How has this affected your group Take 6 and has it caused dissension within the group?
They have been incredible. Those are my brothers. The very first thing I did when I found out this had hit the Internet was write a letter of apology to them and my family.
The group has been performing and traveling together for many years. Don’t you think they knew what was going on?
Whether it’s right or wrong, sometimes you tend to leave people alone. Some people look at that and say that’s wrong of your brothers not to bring that to your attention. But when you’re family, and that’s what we are, sometimes you will say something, but ultimately the person has to work it out themselves. What I didn’t know is that for all of these years my brothers had been praying for me. In the midst of all this drama we have become so close and we’ve been able to share things I never knew about them and they never knew about me. So there has been a healing within the group, a very cathartic process for all of us.
Why do you feel like you couldn’t be with one woman? Did you just want sex all the time or was there something else going on?
I travel the world singing for a living and you find out very quickly that it doesn’t matter what kind of music you do. There was never a shortage of women. It was sexual addiction. It was porn, multiple partners and lust in general. I’ve never in my adult life dated one woman. And I’ve never married. I was sexually addicted, but even worse I was a liar. I was insecure with myself. I was sleeping with these women to gratify my ego because I was trying to feed a hole. I wanted to be desired. I wanted to feel like I still had it. But, I’ve had to learn to like myself and realize I don’t have to be out there doing crazy stuff and hurting other people. Ultimately you’re digging yourself so far down you feel like you can’t get out. That’s the attack of the devil.
How have you been getting help with your sexual addiction?
The night of February 20th, that’s the day everything came out this year, I did all the praying I could muster up. I knew I needed to go into some type of damage control mode and that’s when I wrote the apology and the manifesto on my site. I asked the Lord to direct me to counsel where I could get healing. It was almost midnight at the time, but I knew if I didn’t do something at that exact moment, I was going to get up the next day and sweep it under the rug. I got online and looked for sexual addiction therapy in the Nashville area. But, I found a 60-day online course called “The Way of Purity.”
Do you think the public is going to take your recovery serious since it’s an online course?
I’ve already heard the jokes and been scoffed at because it’s an online course. This course has pointed me in the right direction of things I should be doing like reading my Bible, learning new habits and getting rid of triggers. But, it’s not the end all to everything I’m doing to get better. I had never read my Bible before in my life until I started this course. I prayed morning, noon and night saying, “Lord, help me to have a personal relationship with you.” I read my Bible cover to cover in 4 months and now I’m in the middle of reading a new translation. The sexual addiction part has been the easiest part to deal with. It’s the lying part that’s been harder. You find out you have to dig deep to understand why you don’t tell full truths. I’m learning more and more that the truth is the truth. That’s been the real issue that has come to light.
Have you had any relapses such as watching porn or sleeping with different women since you started the course?
There have been times during this period where it has been a struggle. But, EVERY TIME I’m having a weak moment, the Lord will put someone in my path that I need to see or talk to at that very moment. Because the devil will try you!! I have accountability partners now also, within the group and outside of the group. Israel Houghton has been very instrumental in giving it to me straight and really praying for me and being a man of God that I can lean on.
How have the women in your life reacted to all of this?
You really find out who your friends are. And what I mean by that is that this is a friend type changing situation, especially when you talk about women. There are some people who have stood by me and been angry. Some stand on the sidelines and throw rocks. Some I have known forever and they never want to talk to me again. So it’s been all over the place. But, I’ve learned that I don’t necessarily need a whole bunch of friends. I need a core group of people that love and support me spiritually.
Do you think you’ll ever get married?
Absolutely, I think I’ll get married one day.
Are you dating anyone right now?
No, I don’t have a girlfriend. I’m really trying to stay focused on what I would consider the healing process and getting close to the Lord. I want to be the best Claude I can be so I can offer that to someone else. Israel Houghton told me to take my time. I really don’t need to rush into anything. I’ve been learning patience through all of this. That’s been hard too, but I’m getting much better at just waiting.
What have you learned about yourself from this situation and what have you learned about God?
I think the Lord allows things to happen to get our attention. This type of “scandal” happened to me before but not on this scale, but God allowed the full court press to happen this time. Every four or five years my house of cards collapsed and I would repent and slowly go back to my old ways. The devil wanted people to see this 10-time Grammy award winner Christian artist out there and make a fool of me. God allowed this to happen so I could get things right. And I’m almost glad it happened like this because I was at a crossroads and I was forced to make a decision at that very moment. The healing I’m going through and being able to talk publicly about my struggles, this is God’s business now. I can take being crucified by the public, but my walk with the Lord is so important to me now that I don’t want my recovery and my healing to become a joke. God is not to be scoffed or mocked. Every person on this earth is a sinner. And we’ve all been in situations in some form or fashion that we shouldn’t have been. It just so happens that I have been put on blast on the worldwide Internet and people know who I am. I used to be one of those people that said, “Ah man I can’t believe he got caught out there like that.” But you say those things when that’s what you have in you. But I’m finding out now that I have a lot more empathy and sympathy. Not excusing what he/she did, but if you need shoulder to cry on or someone to listen, I’m here for what you’re going through. That’s what I wanted for me and that’s what I’m able to do for other people now. Basically the devil never takes a vacation. And he works on those of us in ministry 20 times harder. The devil wants you to be ashamed and cut yourself off from everyone. But I have to go out and stay focused on what the Lord wants me to do. It’s much easier to sit at home, but that’s not changing any lives. The Lord is saying I’m here if you want Me. Make this a testimony. Some will be healed from your foolishness and some will be turned off. But you don’t worry about those people, I am God and I will work everything out for the good of them that love me.
Thanks again to Claude McKnight for opening up to DaGospelTruth.com. His story is a testament that God can deliver us from whatever are issues are!