If one word could describe Brian McKnight, it would possibly be “reinvention.” The R&B singer and songwriter has spent most of his life evolving with the times. With his newly released album, appropriately named “Evolution of a Man,” and his upcoming headlining performance at the Steppin’ Out benefit, McKnight has been reflecting on his life and his future.
“My latest album is a culmination of how much I have changed,” McKnight said in a recent interview with the Banner. “I just turned 40, and I am a newly single dad after being married mostly during my 20s and 30s. This album is about the next stage in my life.”
The first single off the album, “What I’ve Been Waiting For”, was officially released on August 21, and it includes collaborations with singers Jill Scott and Stevie Wonder. McKnight has written and produced some material for his records in the past, but for this album, he did everything, including some instrumentation.
McKnight noted that one key to his longevity as an artist is his ability to reinvent himself and stay relevant. Over the last decade he has toured successfully, and has collaborated with a variety of artists including everyone from Vanessa Williams to Kenny G.
“Growing up a Seventh-day Adventist, I was exposed to so many musical traditions,” he said. “As a child, I was in a gospel group with my brothers. When I wasn’t in church, I was also exposed to jazz. Music has always played a central role in my life.”
As part of his reinvention, he now includes broadcast personality on his resume. He hosts “Soul Session Countdown with Brian McKnight” on BETJ, a premium cable channel, radio shows in Los Angeles and Houston and is in preparation to start his own syndicated late night talk show later this year.
McKnight said that he is not moving away from music, but rather is tapping into other opportunities that show his fans his versatility.
“The radio shows have actually given me an opportunity to connect more with my fans,” he said. “I talk a lot about love and relationships on my shows. Many people think that celebrities are disconnected with real world issues, when in fact, on my show, people realize that we all deal with the same problems.”
McKnight has also branched into reality television. Earlier this year, he appeared in the second season of “Celebrity Apprentice.” Each person on the show played to raise money for a charity of their choice. McKnight played on behalf of Youthville, USA, a children services nonprofit in North Carolina. While many criticize the “reality” of reality programming, McKnight said being on the show was one of the best experiences in his life.
“The show helped me find where I needed to be, because I was put into different situations on the show where I had to think about providing solutions to real world problems.”
However, no matter where his reinvention takes him in the future, McKnight said he is at a better place in his life and looking forward to “whatever comes next.”
“I am just taking life one step at a time,” he said. “As long as I am happy that is alright with me.”
For additional information about Steppin’ Out, please call The Dimock Center at (617) 442-8800, ext 1128.
The health center's Web site provides details about this coming weekend's installment in the annual series of gala fundraisers, one of the highlights of Boston's social calendar. More »