Skip to main content
Select Source:

McKnight, Brian 1969–

Brian McKnight 1969

Vocalist

At a Glance

Selected discography

Sources

Critics have compared Brian McKnight to classic soul singers of a bygone era. His smooth vocal stylings and talent for writing and producing a stirring piece of musicand one devoid of even a hint of the risquéhave earned him a devoted, largely female fan base. Yet McKnight works hard to earn new admirers as well: for his 1997 record Anytime, he expanded his horizons by working with some notable figures in rap music, with a not surprising success.

McKnight was born and lived his first eight years in Buffalo, New York, where he learned to sing while sitting on the lap of his mother. Religion was an important part of the McKnight family heritage, with several generations of Seventh-Day Adventists behind McKnights era; his grandfather had been minister of music for a congregation, while his mother played the piano and sang alto in the gospel choir of Buffalos Emanuel Temple. The youngest of four boys, McKnight became the junior member of an a capella gospel quartet with his three elder siblings. All were serious about music, and as a youngster McKnight was heavily influenced by their tastes, which ranged from the Mighty Clouds of Joy to Gino Vannelli.

When he was eight, the McKnights moved to Orlando, Florida, and he grew into an avid and able athlete as a teen. He was a member of the football, basketball, and track teams, and even dreamed of turning pro. Yet music became more of a lure, especially after he took up the trumpet and found inspiration in the career of horn prodigy Wynton Marsalis; he was also a great admirer of the music of Stevie Wonder. He had also learned to play the piano by ear, and was a solid jazz pianist by the time he was in his teens. Church music thrilled me, but jazz stimulated my mind, McKnight recalled in a biography issued by his record company. By the time he finished high school, he had formed a band without his mothers knowledge and was playing in bars.

In 1987 McKnight headed to Huntsville, Alabama to attend Oakwood College, a strict Christian institution that his brother Claude also attended. Yet around that same time, Claude McKnight and his gospel group Take 6 were signed to a record label, and the role-model brother abandoned his studies to record in Nashville. During his own time in Huntsville, the younger McKnight made the acquaintance of a local producer named Brandon Barnes and his Sound Cell studios, and the two began working together on musical projects; from him McKnight learned the studio production wizardry he would later put to use in his

At a Glance

Born June 5, 1969, in Buffalo, NY; married; two children. Education: Attended Oakwood College, c. 1987-89. Religion: Seventh-Day Adventist.

Career: Singer. Signed to Mercury Records, 1989; released first album, Brian McKnight, 1992; I Remember You, 1995; Anytime, 1997; Bethlehem, 1998; Back At One, 1999; Superhero, 2001; worked with Sean P. Diddy Combs, Justin Timberlake of NSync, Mary J. Blige, Boyz II Men, and Take 6.

Awards: Four Grammy nominations; NAACP Image Award.

Address: Office c/o Polygram Records, 825 Eight Ave., New York, NY 10019.

own recording career. Then, in March of his sophomore year, McKnight was expelled from college for violating Oakwoods strict rules regarding dormitory visitors; both he and his girlfriend had to leave. Incensed, his mother ordered him back home to Orlando, but he begged to stay on until June so that he could work with Barnes; McKnight told her he would come home if he did not win a record deal by then.

The setback fueled him. Working with Barnes, he wrote and recorded dozens of songs, sometimes at the rate of three a day. He then shopped his demos to record companies, and Mercury/Polygram recognized the raw talent and signed him. Yet executives at the label did not immediately let McKnight loose in the studio, instead forcing him to develop his singing and songwriting talents. I was 19, McKnight confessed in his record company biography. And arrogant. You couldnt tell me anything; couldnt tell me how to sing or what to write. Man, I knew it all. I had a lot of growing up to doas a person and artist, he admitted, and praised the executive who signed him, Ed Eckstine, for his patience.

McKnights debut album finally arrived in 1992. The self-titled LP hit No. 17 on the Billboard charts, and featured the single One Last Cry. The record went gold, and critics praised McKnights smooth, understated manner that distanced him greatly from the raunch of many other young R&B singers; People reviewer Jeremy Helligar characterized it as a Moet-and-Brie style. The success led to collaboration with actress/singer Vanessa Williams, and their duet single, Love Is, emerged as a top five hit and was featured on the soundtrack to the Fox-TV drama Beverly Hills 90210.

McKnights rising star brought him an invitation to produce a Christmas album for the group Boyz II Men. He also kept up a disciplined schedule of songwriting and recording. For his follow-up, 1995s I Remember You, the singer wrote 14 of its 15 tracks. The album reached number four on the Billboard charts and featured the singles Still in Love and (Keep It On the) Down Low. In a Rolling Stone review, writer Richard Torres lamented the passing of the old-school soul singer who seduced, not shocked, and hailed McKnight as a throwback to this style. McKnight revels in being a hopeless romantic who fervently believes in the healing power of love, Torres wrote, and compared him to Smoky Robinson. Torres found I Remember You rife with impassioned singing and understated arrangements with enough jazz and gospel flavoring to prevent clogging of the arteries.

McKnight, already a heartthrob, was able to seduce more fans with the videos for I Remember You, which were linked together thematically around a cliff-hanger type of plot that featured McKnight in the role of a stylish secret agent /Lothario. Yet McKnight felt pulled in still other directions; he was eager to explore new territory, and the label was acquiescent. I got tired of people thinking I was 36 when I was 26, McKnight explained to Washington Post reporter Geoffrey Himes. People think Im older because I like Armani suits and dont wear my pants sagging down to my knees. But thats just the way I like to dress. McKnight asked some well-placed friends in the music industry to help him out for his 1997 release Anytime. They included Sean Puff Daddy Combs, who produced the first single, You Should Be Mine; another industry comrade, rapper Mase, guested on the track. Mary J. Blige co-wrote Hold Me with McKnight, and much of the production work was undertaken by the renowned Trackmasterz team. It was a double-edged sword, McKnight admitted to Billboard writer J. R. Reynolds. I found it very different to be recording and having other people tell me what they wanted. At the same time, hearing what they laid down really made me step up on what I did on my own.

McKnights foray into uncharted territory was a success. Ebonys Lynn Norment called the record hot and cool and eclectic, while other critics applauded it for revealing McKnights range of talents. One example is the moving, orchestral gospel track When the Chariot Comes, a song McKnight wrote for Anytime, and one inspired by a funeral he attended with his mother. A lot of us assume were going to wake up tomorrow, but you go to a funeral and you realize that you have to live each day like its your last, McKnight told Himes in the Washington Post. I just tried to capture the way people responded at the service. Still other professional triumphs occurred for McKnight in 1997: he recorded a song with Jamaican reggae artist Diana King that became the title track to the acclaimed film about Muhammad Ali, When We Were Kings; for an NBA at 50 compilation, he covered a classic track from one of his idols, Stevie Wonders Signed, Sealed, Delivered (Im Yours).

Over the next couple of years, McKnight would begin to revert back to his gospel roots for even more inspiration for his music. The 1998 holiday inspired Bethlehem was produced in conjunction with brother Claudes gospel group Take 6 as well as R&B group Boys II Men and featured a cross between traditional gospel hymns and more contemporary Christmas tracks. This album would in turn be eclipsed by McKnights next offering in 1999, Back At One. Compared to the streetwise rhythms of Anytime, Back At One focused more on mixing the gospel sound with urban soul to produce an album which critics called empowered and nicely polished. McKnight himself considered the album a breakout of sorts as he told Billboards Chuck Taylor, Everybody came to know Anytime but Im not sure they connected it with Brian McKnight. Now I think they know that Back At One is me. While trying to stay on top of his music career during this period, McKnight suffered some marital problems and briefly separated twice from his wife, Julie. McKnight however is committed to making his personal relationships work and took time out of tours and recording to work on his marriage and relationship with his two children. He told Ebony reporter Aldore Collier, Its not easy, but we have decided that no matter what, were just going to be together. Commitment makes it happen. The communication is there. The relationship requires a lot of compromise.

Even though McKnight was spending more time with his family, it did not seem to slow down his movement in the music industry. In 2001 McKnight released his fifth studio album, Superhero, which secured McKnight four Grammy nominations as well as awards from the NAACP and Billboards. This album played off of McKnights popularity in the R&B style, with such singles as Love of My Life and the radio popular duet My Kind of Girl with Justin Timberlake of NSync. But McKnight was not afraid to dabble in other genres as well such as his forage into rock on Superhero and the bouncing rap-like single Groovin Tonight. McKnight also continued to work on the other side of the microphone, producing and writing music for other artists whenever his schedule allowed. But the most important thing to McKnight was always the quality of whatever project he was involved in. The music I write and the songs I sing must first move me, McKnight explained in his press biography. The sentiments must be real, the melodies must be magic. I want to create moods everyone can feel. Records dont need to be perfect, but they do need character.

Selected discography

Brian McKnight, Mercury 1992.

I Remember You, Mercury, 1995.

Anytime, Mercury, 1997.

Bethlehem, Motown, 1998.

Back At One, Uptown /Universal, 1999.

Superhero, Motwon, 2001.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, April 29, 1995, pp. 44; November 18, 1995, p. 100; August 2, 1997, pp. 27-28; November 20, 1999, p. 119.

Black Collegian, September/October 1992, p. 52.

Ebony, November 1997; July 2000.

Ebony Male, October 1995.

People, August 21, 1995, pp. 24-25.

Rolling Stone, September 21, 1995, pp. 83-84.

Washington Post, January 9, 1998; Page N15.

On-line

All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com

http://www.infomatch.com/~winst/index.htlml

http://www.polygram.com

Carol Brennan and Ralph Zerbonia

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"McKnight, Brian 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"McKnight, Brian 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/mcknight-brian-1969-0

"McKnight, Brian 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/mcknight-brian-1969-0

McKnight, Brian

Brian McKnight

R&B singer, songwriter, producer

Influenced by Gospel Music

Established As Romantic Balladeer

Crooned Into Rap World

Selected discography

Sources

Brian McKnights professional accomplishments as a musician have been many and varied during the past nine years, after signing with Mercury Records at the tender age of 19 in 1989. A gifted singer known primarily as a romantic balladeer based on his first two releases, he departed from this style on his 1997 album, Anytime, which includes the single, You Should Be Mine, with rapper, Mase. This departure from the romantic crooning heard on his first two albums challenged him and forced him to stretch musically. The results of this collaboration first came to the attention of the mainstream after his 1993 duet with Vanessa Williams, Love Is, from the Beverly Hills 90210 soundtrack, which hit number three on the Hot 100. McKnight has proven that although he sped up the music ladder to stardom, he has what it takes to maintain his place.

McKnight is also a prolific songwriter. He writes much of his own material as well as writing songs for other artists. Known as a brilliant producer, this versatile artist plays a number of instruments as well, including the piano, trumpet, and bass. In addition to being lead vocalist, songwriter, and/or producer of three of his own albums during the past five years, he has also performed and recorded with Take 6, Boyz II Men, Vanessa Williams, Quincy Jones, the Boys Choir of Harlem, and others. Additionally, McKnight has produced and co-produced many other releases for various artists.

Coming from a highly musical family, McKnight always thought singing and playing music were as natural as walking and talking according to an online interview. He was born in Buffalo, New York, on June 5, 1969, the youngest of four boys. His success was obviously strongly influenced by his family and his earliest experiences. McKnight learned to sing at the age of four, seated on his mothers lap while she sang in the alto section of the church choir. McKnights grandfather was the minister of music at the church, and had been a big band leader. Here in the Emanuel Temple in Buffalo, New York, McKnight absorbed the joyous spiritual melodies that are a trademark of the African-American church. That grounding in gospel harmonies remain a foundation in his work today.

Influenced by Gospel Music

While still a young boy, McKnight and his three older brothers formed a gospel quartet, called the McKnight Brothers. The boys modeled themselves after the great gospel groups, the Swan Silvertones and Mighty Clouds of Joy. McKnight looked up to his three older brothers, Claude, Freddie, and Michael, who were role models to

For the Record

Born June 5, 1969 in Buffalo, NY; Known to friends as B; children: Brian Jr. and Niko. Education: Attended Oakwood College, Huntsville, AL, 198789.

Signed contract with Mercury Records, 1989; released debut album, Brian McKnight, 1992, I Remember You, 1995, and Anytime, 1997; performed on and produced many other albums with a wide variety of artists including Take 6, a duet with Vanessa Williams, You Got To Go, from her album Comfort Zone (Wing, 1991); Love Is, top five hit single from the Beverly Hills 90210 soundtrack; Christmas Interpretations, Boyz II Men (Motown Records, 1993); Qs Jook Joint, Quincy Jones, (Qwest, 1995).

Addresses: Record company Mercury Records/Polygram, World Wide Plaza, 825 8th Ave., New York, NY 10019. Website www.mercuryrecords.com/artists/brian_mcknight/brian_mcknight.html.

him. Following their lead of listening to jazz outside of church, the youngest McKnight told David Ritz, in a online interview that Church music thrilled me, but jazz stimulated my mind. His childhood was filled with a wide variety of music including The Platters, Nat King Cole, Woody Herman, and Gino Vannelli. Inspired by the Four Freshman and HiLos albums brought home by his older brothers, McKnight taught himself how to play piano by ear.

His other passion was and continues to be sports. He idolized the Philadelphia 76ers and Dr. J. as well as the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Dorset. As a youngster he had two dreamsto be a professional ball player and a professional musician. When he was eight years old, his family moved from the snowy region of Buffalo, New York, to sunny Florida. Even before he was a teenager, he played jazz piano. He studied the masters, Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum, whom he considered geniuses. Still the playing field of sports beckoned. During junior high he ran on the track team and was a starter on both the football and basketball teams. His passion for sports and music continued to compete, until he was won over by the music of Stevie Wonder. He felt that Wonders singing is almost athletic. Wonders Original Musicquarium had a major impacton the direction of his life.

During high school, McKnight was into the trumpet and followed the work of Wynton Marsalis, who became another role model for the young artist. By age 17, he had formed a group called Spontaneous Inventions, named after Bobby McFerrins album. Unbeknownst to his mother, he would paint a mustache on his face to play in clubs.

Soon afterwards in 1987, McKnight followed his older brother Claude to the Christian college, Oakwood, in Huntsville, Alabama. Huntsville was also Brian McK-nights first opportunity to work in a professional recording studio. It was at Sound Cell that he met Brandon Barnes, another gifted writer and musician who would later become Knights partner and mentor. Barnes showed him the ropes, taught him how to make demos, and how to cut tracks. Barnes co-wrote three songs on Anytime, including the title track. Two years later, in 1989, McKnights college career came to a sudden end when he was expelled for having a woman in his room; the incident proved to be the catalyst which would jump start his music career.

Remaining in Huntsville, McKnight began working at the Sound Cell and would soon record an amazing 65 songs. Determined to succeed as a musician, he began sending demo tapes to record companies and in 1989 Mercury Records signed 19 year old McKnight to a recording contract.

Established As Romantic Balladeer

In 1992, McKnights self-titled debut album was released on the Mercury label. Well received and a commercial success, the album included the hit single, One Last Cry. Entertainment Weekly called it black pop suitable for framing, with McKnights lush tenor voice adding a heartfelt quality to the poetic love songs. During this time he also received accolades for his production work on Vanessa Williams album, Comfort Zone, and duet with Williams, You Got To Go. Another duet with Vanessa Williams, Love Is, from the Beverly Hills 90210 soundtrack helped establish McKnight as a serious balladeer.

With 1995s I Remember You, McKnight was further established in the pop/R&B arena. He continued crooning about love and desire, and showed he was unafraid to reveal the sensitiveside of the contemporary man. McKnight revels in being a hopeless romantic who fervently believes in the healing power of love, stated Rolling Stone. But Peoples Jeremy Helligar opined that most of I Remember You is all too easy to forget. Whatever the opinion of this album, the jazz influence showed through the soulful sound as McKnight began melding jazz and pop sounds with his own heartfelt vocals. McKnight told Ritz that the feelings he writes about must move him first: The sentiments must be real, the melodies must be magic.

Crooned Into Rap World

In addition to his many other projects, McKnight released his third album with Mercury, 1997s Anytime. The single, You Should Be Mine (Dont Waste Your Time), featured rapper Mase, while the album attempts to reach ayounger audience with the rap beat. Giving up some of the control on the production end, he sought out producer Sean Puffy Combs for the single, You Should Be Mine. Mary J. Bilge wrote the lyrics for Hold Me, and both Diane Warren and Trackmasterzs songwriting talents were also enlisted for Anytime.

McKnight was determined to break newmusical ground for himself and feels that Anytime presents a broader picture of his musical talents and avoids limiting him to being known as only a singer of romantic ballads. McKnight told Teddy D. in an online interview that part of the inspiration for the album came from his desire to do something a little more dangerous. I wanted to show every side of my personality. But Helligar, writing for Entertainment Weekly, disagreed with McKnights new approach, saying hip-hopping onto the Sean Puffy Combs bandwagon is not the way to go about it.

When asked by interviewer Teddy D. what he feels is the most significant accomplishment of his life, McKnight stated, My kids without a doubt. Its just amazing to see there is nothing else that I could do in life that would be as important or mean as much tome as them. During that same interview McKnight said between performing, producing, and songwriting he enjoys songwriting the best. The advice he gives to aspiring artists is to never enter into anything half hearted. And just to show that he hasnt totally given up on his other dream to become a professional ball player, when asked what his long term goals are he replied, laughing, To play in the NBA, then in amore serioustone added, Maintain and continue to perfect my craft.

Selected discography

Brian McKnight, (Includes One Last Cry), Mercury Records, 1992.

I Remember You, Mercury Records, 1995.

Anytime, (Includes You Should Be Mine and Hold Me), Mercury Records, 1997.

With Others

(With Vanessa Williams) Comfort Zone, Wing, 1991.

Always Be Around, Capitol/EMI Records, 1991.

Beverly Hills 90210 (soundtrack) Giant/Warner Brothers, 1992.

(With Boyz II Men) Christmas Interpretations,, Motown Records, 1993.

(With The Boys Choir of Harlem) Sound of Hope, EastWest America, 1994.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, April 29, 1995, p. 44; June 10, 1995, p. 2022; August 2, 1997, p. 27.

Entertainment Weekly, August 14, 1992, p. 62; October 10, 1997, p. 40.

Jet, September 16, 1991, p. 59.

People, August 21, 1995, p. 25.

Rolling Stone, September 21, 1995, p. 82.

The Source, November 1997, p. 174.

Vibe, September 1995, p. 168.

Online

www.cdnow.com/

www.cduniverse.com/

www.geocities.com/BourbonStreet/8764/bio.htm

www.mercuryrecords.com/artists/brian_mcknight/brian_mcknight.html

www.polygram-us.com/mondo/brian_mcknight/story.html

www.rbpage.com/backissue23.html

Debra Reilly

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"McKnight, Brian." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"McKnight, Brian." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/mcknight-brian

"McKnight, Brian." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/mcknight-brian

McKnight, Brian 1969–

Brian McKnight 1969

Vocalist

College Scandal

Three Arduous Years

Change in Direction

Selected discography

Sources

Critics have compared Brian McKnight to classic soul singers of a bygone era. His smooth vocal stylings and talent for writing and producing a stirring piece of musicand one devoid of even a hint of the risquéhave earned him a devoted, largely female fan base. Yet McKnight works hard to earn new admirers as well: for his 1997 record Anytime, he expanded his horizons by working with some notable figures in rap music, with a not surprising success.

McKnight was born and lived his first eight years in Buffalo, New York, where he learned to sing while sitting on the lap of his mother. Religion was an important part of the McKnight family heritage, with several generations of Seventh-Day Adventists behind McKnights era; his grandfather had been minister of music for a congregation, while his mother played the piano and sang alto in the gospel choir of Buffalos Emanuel Temple. The youngest of four boys, McKnight became the junior member of an α capello gospel quartet with his three elder siblings. All were serious about music, and as a youngster McKnight was heavily influenced by their tastes, which ranged from the Mighty Clouds of Joy to Gino Vannelli.

When he was eight, the McKnights the McKnights moved to Orlando, Florida, and he grew into an avid and able athlete as a teen. He was a member of the football, basketball, and track teams, and even dreamed of turning pro. Yet music became more of a lure, especially after he took up the trumpet and found inspiration in the career of horn prodigy Wynton Marsalis; he was also a great admirer of the music of Stevie Wonder. He had also learned to play the piano by ear, and was a solid jazz pianist by the time he was in his teens. Church music thrilled me, but jazz stimulated my mind, McKnight recalled in a biography issued by his record company. By the time he finished high school, he had formed a band without his mothers knowledge and was playing in bars.

College Scandal

In 1987, McKnight headed to Huntsville, Alabama to attend Oakwood College, a strict Christian institution that his brother Claude also attended. Yet around that same time, Claude McKnight and his gospel group Take 6 were signed to a record label, and the role-model

At a Glance

Born June 5, 1969, in Buffalo, NY; divorced; two children. Education: Oakwood Coll., c. 1987-89. I Religion: Seventh-Day Adventist.

Career: Signed with Mercury Records, 1989; Albums: Brian McKnight, 1992, I Remember You, 1995; Anytime, 1997.

Addresses: Office do Polygram Records, 825 Eight Ave., New York, NY 10019.

brother abandoned his studies to record in Nashville. During his own time in Huntsville, the younger McKnight made the acquaintance of a local producer named Brandon Barnes and his Sound Cell studios, and the two began working together on musical projects; from him McKnight learned the studio production wizardry he would later put to use in his own recording career. Then, in March of his sophomore year, McKnight was expelled from college for violating Oakwoods strict rules regarding dormitory visitors; both he and his girlfriend had to leave. Incensed, his mother ordered him back home to Orlando, but he begged to stay on until June so that he could work with Barnes; McKnight told her he would come home if he did not win a record deal by then.

The setback fueled him. Working with Barnes, he wrote and recorded dozens of songs, sometimes at the rate of three a day. He then shopped his demos to record companies, and Mercury/Polygram recognized the raw talent and signed him. Yet executives at the label did not immediately let McKnight loose in the studio, instead forcing him to develop his singing and songwriting talents. I was 19, McKnight confessed in his record company biography. And arrogant. You couldnt tell me anything; couldnt tell me how to sing or what to write. Man, I knew it all. I had a lot of growing up to do as a person and artist, he admitted, and praised the executive who signed him, Ed Eckstine, for his patience.

Three Arduous Years

McKnights debut album finally arrived in 1992. The self-titled LP hit No. 17 on the Billboard charts, and featured the single One Last Cry. The record went gold, and critics praised McKnights smooth, understated manner that distanced him greatly from the raunch of many other young R&B singers; People reviewer Jeremy Helligar characterized it as a Moet-and-Brie style. The success led to collaboration with actress/singer Vanessa Williams, and their duet single, Love Is, emerged as a Top Five hit and was featured on the soundtrack to the Fox-TV drama Beverly Hills 90210

McKnights rising star brought him an invitation to produce a Christmas album for the group Boyz II Men. He also kept up a disciplined schedule of songwriting and recording. For his follow-up, 1995s I Remember You, the singer wrote 14 of its 15 tracks. The album reached No. 4 on the Billboard charts and featured the singles Still in Love and (Keep It On the) Down Low. In a Rolling Stone review, writer Richard Torres lamented the passing of the old-school soul singer who seduced, not shocked, and hailed McKnight as a throwback to this style. McKnight revels in being a hopeless romantic who fervently believes in the healing power of love, Torres wrote, and compared him to Smoky Robinson. Torres found I Remember You rife with impassioned singing and understated arrangements with enough jazz and gospel flavoring to prevent clogging of the arteries.

Change in Direction

McKnight, already a heartthrob, was able to seduce more fans with the videos for I Remember You, which were linked together thematically around a cliffhanger type of plot that featured McKnight in the role of a stylish secret agent/Lothario. Yet McKnight felt pulled in still other directions; he was eager to explore new territory, and the label was acquiescent. I got tired of people thinking I was 36 when I was 26, McKnight explained to Washington Post reporter Geoffrey Himes. People think Im older because I like Armani suits and dont wear my pants sagging down to my knees. But thats just the way I like to dress. McKnight asked some well-placed friends in the music industry to help him out for his 1997 release Anytime. They included Sean Puff Daddy Combs, who produced the first single, You Should Be Mine; another industry comrade, rapper Mase, guested on the track. Mary J. Blige cowrote Hold Me with McKnight, and much of the production work was undertaken by the renowned Trackmasterz team. It was a double-edged sword, McKnight admitted to Billboard writer J. R. Reynolds. I found it very different to be recording and having other people tell me what they wanted. At the same time, hearing what they laid down really made me step up on what I did on my own.

McKnights foray into uncharted territory was a success. Ebonys Lynn Norment called the record hot and cool and eclectic, while other critics lauded it for revealing McKnights range of talents. One example is the moving, orchestral gospel track When the Chariot Comes, a song McKnight wrote for Anytime, and one inspired by a funeral he attended with his mother. A lot of us assume were going to wake up tomorrow, but you go to a funeral and you realize that you have to live each day like its your last, McKnight told Himes in the Washing-ton Post I just tried to capture the way people responded at the service. Still other professional triumphs occurred for McKnight in 1997: he recorded a song with Jamaican reggae artist Diana King that became the title track to the acclaimed film about Muhammad Ali, When We Were Kings; for an NBA at 50 compilation, he covered a classic track from one of his idols, Stevie Wonders Signed, Sealed, Delivered (Im Yours).

McKnight also spends time in the studio with brother Claudes Take 6, writing and producing tracks for them. He is divorced and the father of two children. For recreation, he plays basketball, but is more likely to spend most of his free time in the studio. The music I write and the songs I sing must first move me, McKnight explained in his press biography. The sentiments must be real, the melodies must be magic. I want to create moods everyone can feel. Records dont need to be perfect, but they do need character.

Selected discography

Brian McKnight, Mercury 1992.

I Remember You, Mercury, 1995.

Anytime, Mercury, 1997.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, April 29, 1995, pp. 44; November 18, 1995, p. 100; August 2, 1997, pp. 27-28.

Black Collegian, September/October 1992, p. 52.

Ebony, November 1997.

Ebony Male, October 1995.

People, August 21, 1995, pp. 24-25.

Rolling Stone, September 21, 1995, pp. 83-84.

Washington Post, January 9, 1998; Page N15.

Other

Additional information for this profile was provided by McKnights record label at its Internet site at http://www.polygram.com, and on a fan site at http://www.infomatch.com/~winst/index.htlml

Carol Brennan

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"McKnight, Brian 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"McKnight, Brian 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/mcknight-brian-1969

"McKnight, Brian 1969–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/mcknight-brian-1969