When Cedric Carl Dent, a native of Detroit, graduated from the University of Michigan in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in vocal music education, conventional wisdom said he should take the job he was immediately offered, teaching high school music. Instead, with only a few weeks notice, he took a risk, left the comfort of his hometown, Detroit, MI, and headed south to the small town of Huntsville, AL. Fueled by a passion for music arranging and performing, he went there to join a motley crew of singers who were college students at Oakwood University.
As a baritone vocalist, music arranger, and producer, Dent was a member of TAKE 6. The group is TAKE 6, who released their first commercial recording in 1988 on Warner Brothers Records. TAKE 6 has since recorded for Heads Up as well as their own label, TAKE 6 Records. One of the group's recordings has reached platinum status (one million units sold) and three others have garnered gold. With ten GRAMMY Awards to their credit, TAKE 6 has collaborated with luminaries across several genres, including Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Denyce Graves, k.d. Lang, Don Henley, Queen Latifah, and Israel Houghton.
In 1992, Dent received an individual Grammy Award for several musical arrangements on the recording, Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration. His work included an a cappella setting of O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion for TAKE 6 featuring the inimitable Stevie Wonder. More recognition for Dent’s creative endeavors includes two Grammy Award nominations for his musical arrangements, two Dove Award nominations for his songwriting, and two Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) nominations.
In addition to his undergraduate degree, Dent holds degrees from the University of Alabama (M.M., music theory/arranging, 1987) and the University of Maryland (Ph.D., music theory, 1997). His doctoral dissertation traces the harmonic development of the black religious quartet singing tradition.
In 2004, Dent was appointed Geier Visiting Professor at Middle Tennessee State University. He joined the faculty of the School of Music full-time in 2005 and was tenured in 2008. He directs the MTSU Singers (the vocal jazz ensemble), and teaches classes in music theory, music arranging, and the history of black gospel music. He is a frequent guest lecturer, having lectured at Loma Linda University (2010); Belmont University (2009); Loyola Marymount University at Los Angeles (2009); and the University of Michigan, Dearborn (2006). He held the Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence in the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University in 1999. Also in 1999, he hosted a music education series on Nashville Public Television for children in grades 5-8 called Music to My Ears.
Dent lives in, Tennessee, with his wife Beverly, and son, Cedric Carl, Jr.