Brian McKnight

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This article is about the singer. For the singer's eponymous album, see Brian McKnight (album).
Brian McKnight
Brian McKnight by Gage Skidmore.jpg
McKnight at the 2017 Celebrity Fight Night
Background information
Born (1969-06-05) June 5, 1969 (age 47)
Origin Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Genres R&B, soul, quiet storm
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, producer, musician, actor
Instruments Vocals, piano, keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, trumpet, Flugelhorn, Trombone, Tuba, Percussion
Years active 1988–present
Labels Mercury (1988–1997)
Motown (1998–2005)
Warner Bros. (2006–2008)
E1 Music (2009–2015)
Kobalt (2015-present)

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.[1] 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 third only to Morten Lindberg and Snoop Dogg for the record of most Grammy nominations without a win.


1969–1989: Early life and career beginnings[edit]

McKnight was born in Buffalo, New York. His musical career began in childhood when he became a member of his church choir.

1990–1997: Mercury Records[edit]

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 signed his first recording deal with Mercury Records subsidiary, Wing Records.[2] In 1992, Brian McKnight was released, and his self-titled debut album 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.

1997–2003: Motown Records[edit]

McKnight signed with Motown in 1998 and released the Christmas album Bethlehem, the first of five albums he released on Motown. In 1999, McKnight released Back at One, his most successful album to date, which eventually went on to sell over 3 million copies. Also "Back at One" is one of four of McKnight's studio albums to reach the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, reaching to #7 on October 9, 1999.[3]

2004–2012: Warner Brothers and television/radio career[edit]

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.[4] 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[5] 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.

McKnight at the 2014 Pioneer of African American Achievement Awards Gala

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." [6] Other media outlets such as MTV, the Toronto Sun, and NewMediaRockstars[7] have also written about McKnight's recent, more adult-oriented efforts.[8][9] 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.[10]

2015: Brian McKnight Music LLC / Kobalt[edit]

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 will be released on his own label Brian McKnight Music LLC via Kobalt Label Services.[11] "Better" was released on February 26, 2016, the album was followed by positive reviews including fan comments retweeted via McKnight's Twitter profile.[12]

2016: An Evening With Brian McKnight / SoNo Recording Group[edit]

On September 23, 2016 McKnight released his first live CD, DVD, and BluRay collection entitled "An Evening With" in partnership with independent recording label The SoNo Recording Group through the Universal Music Group. The concert was recorded in Los Angeles at the historic Saban Theatre. The release includes fourteen songs performed live with his full band plus three newly written and recorded songs. The first single "Everything" reached the top twenty on the national Adult Contemporary charts in September 2016. The CD version of the concert debuted on the Billboard (magazine) R&B chart at number thirteen as a Hot Shot Debut. Also included is a duet with Gino Vannelli on the song "Brothers In The End". The Blu-ray and DVD version of the release premiered on the Billboard (magazine) Music DVD chart at number nine.

Mentions in other works[edit]

Brian McKnight was mentioned in Travis Scott's and Young Thug's single "Pick Up the Phone." As a result of this line, Travis Scott's 2016 album was titled Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. The album was originally to be called Tina[citation needed], but Scott changed it to current title after he was inspired by Quavo's lyrics in "Pick Up the Phone."

Personal life[edit]

McKnight was married to former singer and song writer Julie McKnight in 1990. Brian and Julie have 2 children: Brian Jr and Niko. McKnight divorced Julie in 2003. Since his divorce, McKnight was in a long term relationship to Annalisa in 2005 but briefly separated in 2007-2009 they decided to reconcile in January 2009 after they reconciled Brian proposed to Alliana on stage and got engaged in 2010 but finally called it quits and canceled the wedding In 2011. Brian got engaged and married in August 2016 but due to extreme irreparable and irreconcilable differences he separated in September 2016. Brian stated that we were in love, but we both knew that we couldn't make it work. He currently lives in Chatsworth, California. McKnight met and proposed to Dr Leilani Malia, a pediatric neurophysiologist from Maui in 2016. The couple married later that month, he and Leilani are currently still married and better then ever says McKnight his new album "Better" is made for her. Brian 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 ballers.[13]


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:[citation needed]

"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."[citation needed]



Live Albums[edit]

  • An Evening With Brian McKnight (2016)


  • From There to Here: 1989-2002 (2002)
  • Gold (2007)
  • 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection – The Best of Brian McKnight (2007)
  • Ultimate Collection (2009)
  • Icon: Love Songs (2011)
  • Greatest Hits (2014)


  • Bethlehem (1998)
  • I'll Be Home for Christmas (2008)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Year Nominee Category Result
American Music Awards 1999 Brian McKnight Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist Nominated
Anytime Favorite Soul/R&B Album Nominated
BET Awards 2007 Brian McKnight BET J Cool Like Dat Award Nominated
Grammy Awards 1994 "Love Is" with Vanessa Williams Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Nominated
1999 "Anytime" Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
"The Only One For Me" Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Nominated
2000 Back at One Best R&B Album Nominated
"Back at One" Best Short Form Music Video Nominated
2001 "6, 8, 12" Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
"Stay or Let It Go" Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Nominated
"Coming Back Home" with BeBe Winans & Joe Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Nominated
2002 "Still" Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
"My Kind of Girl" with Justin Timberlake Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Nominated
"Love of My Life" Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Nominated
Best R&B Song Nominated
"Win" from Men of Honor Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Nominated
2003 "All the Way" with Kenny G Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Nominated
2004 "Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda" Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Nominated
2005 "What We Do Here" Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Nominated
NAACP Image Awards 2000 "Back at One" Outstanding Male Artist Won
2001 "Stay or Let It Go" Outstanding Male Artist Nominated
2002 Superhero Outstanding Male Artist Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards 1998 "Anytime" Best Male Video Nominated
2000 "Back at One" Best R&B Video Nominated
Soul Train Music Awards 1999 "Anytime" Best R&B/Soul Single, Male Won
2000 "Back at One" Best R&B/Soul Single, Male Nominated
Back at One Best R&B/Soul Album, Male Nominated
2002 "Love of My Life" Best R&B/Soul Single, Male Nominated


  1. ^ Collier, Aldore (July 2000). "Brian McKnight on Fame, Family and Female Fans". Retrieved 2007-01-08. 
  2. ^ "Brian McKnight Back at One". 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  3. ^ [1], Brian McKnight's chart history on Billboard 200 Albums Chart
  4. ^ Trump Rounds Up Celebs for New Season of the Apprentice New York Times, January 8, 2009
  5. ^ "Stevie Wonder Confirmed as First Guest on Premiere of The Brian McKnight Show". August 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  6. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (April 24, 2012). "Brian McKnight Previews 'Adult Mixtape' with Explicit Slow Jam". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-12-16. 
  7. ^ "Brian McKnight Interview | R&B Legend". June 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-16. 
  8. ^ "Brian McKnight: 'Vulgar sex song a joke'". Toronto Sun. April 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-16. 
  9. ^ "Brian McKnight Officially Re-Releasing Sexual Anthem". April 26, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-16. 
  10. ^ MaxwellSchad. "Brian McKnight on why he wrote "If You're Ready to Learn"". YouTube. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Exclusive: Brian McKnight Teams With Kobalt for New Single 'Uh Oh Feeling'". Billboard. August 14, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-19. 
  12. ^ "Brian McKnight releases 12th studio album 'Better'". Singersroom. February 29, 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-13. 
  13. ^ "Brian McKnight: Official Fan club Site (Biography)". Brian McKnight's Official Fan site. Archived from the original on April 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-08. 

External links[edit]