Singer/songwriter and producer, Brian McKnight will be making a stop at Seneca Niagara Casino’s Event Center on Saturday, July 18.
A Buffalo native, McKnight returns home for one show only, ready to share the string of hits that has kept him a mainstay on the Adult Contemporary and R&B charts and radio stations. With songs like “Back At One”, “Anytime”, “One Last Cry” and “That’s The Way Love Goes”, the singer’s smooth vocals and identifiable sound pulls you in from the first note.
Starting at a young age singing in the church choir, music has been a constant in McKnight’s life. He has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the industry like Justin Timberlake, Willie Nelson, Christina Aguilera, Rascal Flatts, Nelly, Kenny G and Quincy Jones to name a few, as well as toured all over the world. With 15 albums that have sold over 25 million copies, he has been hard at work on his 16th, which will be released next month.
I had the chance to catch up with him recently and we talked about the new album, going “back to the basics,” the best advice he got from a music legend along the way and what he has in store for his hometown fans that come out to see him.
Get your tickets today and let’s give him a “welcome home” that only Buffalo can do!
A CONVERSATION WITH BRIAN McKNIGHT
HULICK:You have a new album, your 16th, being released next month (August) titled “Better”. How long have you been working on it?
MCKNIGHT:From beginning to end it took about a year to make the album.
HULICK:You’ve said that with this album you took it “back to basics” … creating music like it was done 20 years ago … organic and all real instruments. Going back to the way it used to be done I would imagine it felt more hands on than how things are done with recording these days. How did the process feel to you?
MCKNIGHT:It felt like I was making my first CD ever. That's the approach I wanted to take ... as though no one had ever heard me before.
HULICK:It’s not to say that the way things are done today … all digital, is a bad thing. It just seems so much more impersonal and the collaboration between the instrumentalists and the vocalists is sometimes lost. I know one of the things I miss about the music industry is the album covers … the artwork. Jon Bon Jovi has said that the excitement and the anticipation of that whole process has gone by the wayside, and there was no greater feeling than going to the record store and getting a new album and taking it home, unwrapping it and checking out the cover and the inside if it had the open book cover. What are your thoughts?
MCKNIGHT:I feel exactly the same way as he does. We have lost a great deal of that magic in music now.
HULICK:You were born in Buffalo and started out singing in church, but your family moved from Buffalo to Orlando when you were 8 years old. Do you come back to this area very often? Where is home now?
MCKNIGHT: Mostly I come back to the area when I'm working or performing. I consider Los Angeles home now, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Buffalo.
HULICK:You can play nine instruments (guitar, piano, bass, drums, percussion, trombone, tuba, flugelhorn and trumpet). Which do you prefer and do you play any of these in your show?
MCKNIGHT:Although I can play the brass winds, I don't play them much. I have played most of the instruments at least once in the past and on my CDs. I play the keys, guitar and sometimes the bass when I perform live.
HULICK:I see that you will be heading back to South Africa in September to do “The Sequel - Live in South Africa”. You are a busy guy Brian! How do you handle the busy schedule and all the traveling?
MCKNIGHT:Luckily travel has been my life for the better part of 20 years. I like to stay busy. It would feel abnormal for my life to not be this way.
HULICK:You played the part of Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago on Broadway. That must have been a great time! That is a terrific part. Tell us a little about this experience.
MCKNIGHT:Broadway was the thrill of a lifetime and playing that role, after so many legends had done it before me, was a great honor.
HULICK:What’s the best advice someone gave you along the way in your career that you took?
MCKNIGHT:Lionel Ritchie told me a long time ago to only worry about writing great songs. The critics and the sales will take care of themselves.
HULICK:You will be playing Seneca Niagara Casino’s Events Center on Saturday, July 18.What can we expect? Will you be doing a lot of the new album?
MCKNIGHT: We are going to sing and play our behinds off! The fans and I, we will all laugh, cry and everything in-between. I probably won't do any new songs, since the album won’t be out yet, but I will perform all of the classics.
HULICK:What’s the best thing about being Brian McKnight?
MCKNIGHT: Waking up every morning and still making a living doing what I love to do!