Brian McKnight Tickets for Sale

Brian McKnight (born June 5, 1969 in Buffalo, New York) is an African-American singer, songwriter, arranger, and producer, specializing in pop and R&B. He is a multi-instrumentalist and plays the piano, guitar, and trumpet.

McKnight's musical career was spurred by a musical childhood, in which he was a member of the church choir and a bandleader in high school. Encouraged by his older brother Claude's band Take 6 getting a record deal, McKnight sent out demo tapes and, at the age of 19, signed his first recording deal with Mercury Records. He released his first self-titled album, Brian McKnight, in 1991. His third and final album for Mercury, 1997's Anytime, sold over two million copies.

Moving to the Motown label, McKnight continued his successful career. His 1999 Back at One album sold over three million copies, and he has collaborated with such musical personalities as Mase, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Mary J. Blige, Vanessa Williams, Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, and Quincy Jones. McKnight's latest album, Gemini, was released on February 8, 2005.

McKnight has two children and is divorced. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California. Although rumors have spread (and been confirmed) of a possible pose for Playgirl magazine, after 9 years, this still has not yet materialized.

With the session over and the song in the can, Brian is ready to relax, happy to talk. At 26, B, as friends call him, is a king of casual. His tall lanky frame covered by sweats, sneakers and baseball cap, he looks like a roundball pro ready to roll over to the gym at a moment's notice. He exudes the restless energy of an athlete, the quick wit of the comic. He does everything quickly; he's a speed reader, fast talker, determined competitor and believer in die-hard discipline. Self-discipline is his style.

"I play basketball every day for two to three hours," B tells you in a voice whose syncopated rhythms mirror his up-tempo tunes. "Sometimes I'll work out with the big boys, buddies like Karl Malone or Charles Smith. But mostly it's just my own crew. Then it's off to the studio where I work until 3 or 4 in the morning. Musically and physically, I stay in shape."
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The extraordinary shape of McKnight's music is formed by his singular history.

"At age four, I learned to sing seated on my mother's lap in the alto section of the choir," says Brian. "My mother is a fine singer and good gospel pianist. My grandfather was minister of music. The choir was a cappella, the voices were awesome, and I still hear the harmonies in my head."

Holy harmonies -- the harmonies of the African-American church -- form a foundation for Brian's sound. A quality of spiritual awe infuses his songs, whether the subject is innocent nostalgia ("I Remember You") or physical passion ("The Floor").

"The Church," he explains, "was Emanuel Temple in Buffalo, where I grew up. I'm the fifth generation of Seventh Day Adventists and the youngest of four brothers. When I was still very small, we formed a gospel quartet. Our models were the great gospel groups, the Swan Silvertones and Mighty Clouds of Joy. The McKnight Brothers were serious singers. The reputation went out: these boys could shout. My big brothers -- Claude, Freddie and Michael -- man, they were my heroes. Each was a leader in his own right. Outside church, they listened to jazz. Church music thrilled me, but jazz stimulated my mind."

"My childhood," Brian continues, "was a happy combination of the Platters and Nat Cole, Woody Herman and Gino Vannelli. My brothers loved sophisticated multi-leveled music -- they loved Steely Dan, for example -- and I inherited that appreciation from the get-go. They'd come home with albums by the Four Freshman and Hi Los. We'd hear those gorgeous close harmonies and rip them right off the records. I sat down at the piano and taught myself by ear. I was also a sports freak. I worshipped the Philadelphia 76ers and Dr. J; I dug the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Dorset. As a junior running back, I wore Tony's number 33. I had two dreams -- to play professional sports and professional music."

"At age eight, we moved from the snow to the sun, from Buffalo to Orlando. The Florida burbs were a little rednecky at first, but I was programmed to excel. Obstacles were there to overcome. Before I was a teenager, I could play jazz piano. I heard the changes and learned the electricity of improvisation. On my own, I went back to study the masters, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, the real geniuses. Meanwhile, the contest between music and sports was a tie. In junior high, I was a flat-out jock, running track, starting on the football and basketball teams. No one knew I could sing. I was still burning on piano, but not ready to step out as a vocalist. Until I got into Stevie Wonder."

"For me, Stevie is the Michael Jordan of music. A category of his own. His Original Musicquarium changed my life. He drew me deep into the tracks. His vocals are almost athletic. I call him a "hard singer," someone who can sing gently but has the power and range to do whatever he wants. That's what I wanted -- the sound I heard in Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, James Ingram, Michael Sembello, Bobby Caldwell -- guys with power and the ability to compose pop songs based on superbad jazz chords. I loved that combination."
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