Brian McKnight (born June 5, 1969) is an American R&B singer-songwriter, arranger, producer, and musician. He is a multi-instrumentalist who plays eight instruments including piano, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, trombone, tuba, flugelhorn and trumpet. He is one of the very few leggiero tenors in the pop genre. McKnight is perhaps most recognized for his strong falsetto and belting range. McKnight's work has earned him 16 Grammy Awards nominations, though he has never won. He is tied with Snoop Dogg for the record of most Grammy nominations without a win.
McKnight was born in Buffalo, New York. His musical career began in childhood when he became a member of his church choir.
In 1990, McKnight's older brother, Claude McKnight III, and his band, Take 6, signed a record deal with Warner Brothers. This encouraged McKnight to shop his own demo tapes and by the age of 19, he'd signed his first recording deal with Mercury Records subsidiary, Wing Records. In 1992, Brian McKnight was released, and his self-titled debut peaked at fifty-eight in the Billboard 200 chart, which primarily featured the ballad (and top twenty single) "One Last Cry". It was followed by two more albums for Mercury, 1995's I Remember You and 1997's Anytime. Anytime, McKnight's final album with Mercury, sold over two million copies and was nominated for a Grammy. The video for "Anytime", directed by Darren Grant, was nominated for Best Male Video at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards. In 1997, McKnight recorded "Remember the Magic" for Disney World's 25th anniversary.
McKnight signed with Motown in 1998 and released the Christmas album Bethlehem. In 1999, McKnight released Back at One, his most successful album to date, which eventually went on to sell over 3 million copies.
In 2004, McKnight co-wrote with Australian Soul artist Guy Sebastian the song "Wait", off Sebastian's Beautiful Life album.
In October 2007, McKnight made his Broadway debut in the show Chicago.
From 2006 to 2010 he hosted a radio show, The Brian McKnight Morning Show with Pat Prescott on KTWV The Wave in Los Angeles, CA. The show was briefly simulcast on KHJZ-FM, Smooth Jazz 95.7 The Wave in Houston, TX from 6AM-9AM CST.
On January 26, 2009, McKnight hosted "The Brian McKnight Show" from 7PM-Midnight on 98.7 KISS FM in New York City.
In 2009, he appeared in the second season of Celebrity Apprentice. Each celebrity played to raise money for the charity of his or her choice; McKnight elected to play for Youthville USA.
From September 2009 to May 2010, McKnight served as the media personality and hosted The Brian McKnight Show, a late night talk show billed as a combination of talk and variety, aired in syndication. The show was cancelled on May 29, 2010 after one season.
On March 31, 2011 McKnight sang the National Anthem for MLB Opening Day in Cincinnati, Ohio with his sons Brian, Jr. and Niko. He had previously sung the National Anthem for the 1997 NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland, Ohio, Game 6 of the 2002 World Series in Anaheim, California, near his Los Angeles home, and the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Detroit. McKnight has also made numerous other "National Anthem" appearances throughout his career. On October 22, 2012 McKnight sang "God Bless America" in the 7th inning of Game 7 of the National League Champion Series in San Francisco, California.
On April 23, 2012 McKnight posted to YouTube "If You're Ready To Learn", which has been characterized by Billboard as a "filthy jam." Billboard selected this lyric from the work to quote: "Let me show you how your p—y works/Since you didn't bring it to me first." Other media outlets such as MTV, the Toronto Sun, and NewMediaRockstars have also written about McKnight's recent, more adult-oriented efforts. Shortly after the single's release, McKnight and known humor website "Funny or Die" revealed that the single was a collaboration between the two parties. McKnight would later explain that he wrote the parody as a commentary on the state of R&B, which he noted was in a period of degradation overall with famous radio station 98.7 Kiss FM shuttering and hit singles being inferior quality music, among other ailments.
On August 14, 2015 McKnight released the single "Uh Oh Feeling" as the first track to be taken from his upcoming studio album Better, which is set for release in January of 2016 on his own label Brian McKnight Music LLC via Kobalt Label Services.
McKnight is divorced and lives in Los Angeles. He has 2 sons: Brian Jr and Niko, and 2 daughters, Brianna, and Braylinn. His father was Claude McKnight, an employee at Lockheed Martin Aircraft. He also performed "Side Pieces" with Drake at the 2014 ESPY Awards as a tribute to all the back-ups in the shadows of the professional sports stars.
Brian McKnight was raised a Seventh-day Adventist. He grew up attending Emmanuel Temple. He also attended Oakwood College (now University), a Seventh-Day Adventist university in Huntsville, Alabama, from 1987–1989. McKnight explains, concerning his musical beginnings in the church: "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 (a part of the gospel group Take 6), 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 me."
He has since hinted that he is no longer a Christian.
Discography: Brian McKnight (1992)
I Remember You (1995)
Back at One (1999)
From There to Here: 1989-2002 (2002)
U Turn (2003)
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection - The Best of Brian McKnight (2007)
Evolution of a Man (2009)
Ultimate Collection (2009)
Icon: Love Songs (2011)
Just Me (2011)
More Than Words (2013)
Greatest Hits (2014)