Brian McKnight
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Brian McKnight

Brian McKnight
Brian McKnight by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
McKnight at the 2019 Celebrity Fight Night
Brian Kelly McKnight

(1969-06-05) June 5, 1969 (age 52)
EducationMaynard Evans High School
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • actor
  • multi-instrumentalist
  • arranger
Years active1988-present
Julie McKnight
(m. 1990; div. 2003)

Leilani Mendoza
(m. 2017)
AwardsFull list
Musical career

Brian Kelly McKnight (born June 5, 1969) is an American singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist.[1][2] McKnight is most recognized for his strong falsetto and belting range. His work has earned him 16 Grammy Awards nominations,[3] third only to Zubin Mehta and Snoop Dogg for the record of most Grammy nominations without a win.[4]

Life and career

1969-1989: Early life and career beginnings

McKnight was born in Buffalo, New York to Claude McKnight, Jr. and Ruth Elaine Willis. His musical career began in childhood when he became a member of his church choir.

1990-1997: Mercury Records

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.[5] 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

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 three 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 number 7 on October 9, 1999.[6]

2004-2012: Warner Brothers and television/radio career

In 1998, McKnight was a guest star on the show "Sister Sister", he appeared in multiple episodes as Tia and Tamera's college professor.

McKnight performing in 2006

In 2004, McKnight co-wrote with Australian Soul artist Guy Sebastian the song "Wait", off Sebastian's Beautiful Life album.

In late 2005, McKnight signed with Warner Bros. Records and released the album, Ten. released December 2006, his only studio album with the label. Three singles released from the album: "Find Myself in You" (which originally appeared on the soundtrack to the 2006 Tyler Perry movie Madea's Family Reunion,) "Used to Be My Girl", and "What's My Name".

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.[7] 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[8] The Brian McKnight Show, a late night talk show billed as a combination of talk and variety, aired in syndication.

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 in Beverly Hills, 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."[9] Other media outlets such as MTV, the Toronto Sun, and NewMediaRockstars[10] have also written about McKnight's recent, more adult-oriented efforts.[11][12] 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.[13]

2015: Brian McKnight Music and Kobalt

On August 14, 2015, McKnight released the single "Uh Oh Feeling", the first track from his album Better, which was released on his own label Brian McKnight Music LLC via Kobalt Label Services.[14] Better was released on February 26, 2016, followed by positive reviews.[15]

2016-present: An Evening with Brian McKnight, SoNo Recording Group, and Genesis

On September 23, 2016, McKnight released his first live CD, DVD, and Blu-ray 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 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 Music DVD chart at number nine.

On August 25, 2017, McKnight released the album Genesis.[16] Featuring three top 30 Urban AC and AC hits, "Everything", "Forever", "I Want U", 'Genesis' premiered in the Top 10 on the Nielsen SoundScan Top 10 Current R&B albums and Top 20 Current Hip Hop/R&B albums. The album was produced by Tim Kelley part of the legendary producing duo Tim & Bob.

In January 2018, Brian was nominated for two NAACP Image Awards. Brian McKnight and Genesis were nominated for Outstanding Male Artist and Outstanding Album alongside Bruno Mars, Charlie Wilson, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, and Mary J Blige.

In May 2018, he announced work on his next studio album tentatively titled Bedtime Story which would be 60 minutes of music "for the bedroom aka baby-making music."[17]

In 2021, Brian McKnight competed on The Masked Singer spin-off The Masked Dancer as "Cricket".

Personal life

McKnight was married in 1990 to singer-songwriter and his college sweetheart, Julie McKnight. Brian and Julie have 2 children Brian Jr & Niko. They divorced in 2003.

In 2014, he began dating Dr. Leilani Malia Mendoza, and they announced their engagement in May 2017.[18] On December 29, 2017, McKnight and Mendoza were married.[19]


Brian McKnight was raised a Seventh-day Adventist. Religion was important in the McKnight family, with many generations being Seventh-day Adventists. His grandfather was a pastor of a church, and his mother played the piano and sang in a gospel choir in Buffalo's Emanuel Temple. Being the youngest of four boys, McKnight became a member of an a capella gospel quartet with his brothers. He also attended Oakwood College, a Seventh-day Adventist university in Huntsville, Alabama, from 1987 to 1989. In his second year, McKnight got into trouble for violating Oakwood's rules about dormitory visitors, for having his girlfriend in his dorm room. They were both expelled.[20][21]


Studio albums



Year Title Role Notes
1998 Beverly Hills 90210 Himself Episode: "Ready or Not"
1994-1996 Martin Himself Episode: "Love is in Your Face" Part 2
1996 Living Single Himself Episode: "Wake Up to the Breakup"
1998 Sister, Sister Dr. Keith Brooks 2 Episodes: "The Grass is Always Finer", "Greek to me"
1998 Sister, Sister Clarence Walker Episode: "Before There Was Hip Hop..."
2000 A Diva's Christmas Carol Himself TV film
2002 My Wife and Kids Himself Episode: "Anniversary"
2013 The Eric Andre Show Himself Episode: "Krysten Ritter; Dominic Monaghan"
2021 The Masked Dancer Cricket


Year Title Role Notes
2009 Black Dynamite Sweet Meat
2017 Naked Himself

Awards and nominations

Award Year Nominee/work 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
MTV Video Music Awards 1998 "Anytime" Best Male Video Nominated
2000 "Back at One" Best R&B Video 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
2018 Genesis Outstanding Male Artist Nominated
Outstanding Album Nominated
Pop Awards 2018[23] Brian McKnight Lifetime Achievement Award 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. ^ "ACE Repertory". Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ Collier, Aldore (July 2000). "Brian McKnight on Fame, Family and Female Fans". Retrieved 2007.
  3. ^ "12 Artists Who Could Win Their First Grammy in 2019". Billboard. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ News, ABS-CBN. "'Sleep well, brother': In live video, Brian McKnight sings in memory of James Ingram". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ "Brian McKnight Back at One". 2009. Retrieved 2010.
  6. ^ [1] Archived May 4, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, Brian McKnight's chart history on Billboard 200 Albums Chart
  7. ^ Trump Rounds Up Celebs for New Season of the Apprentice New York Times, January 8, 2009
  8. ^ "Stevie Wonder Confirmed as First Guest on Premiere of The Brian McKnight Show". August 2009. Retrieved 2010.
  9. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (April 24, 2012). "Brian McKnight Previews 'Adult Mixtape' with Explicit Slow Jam". Billboard. Retrieved 2012.
  10. ^ "Brian McKnight Interview | R&B Legend". June 19, 2012. Archived from the original on December 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  11. ^ "Brian McKnight: 'Vulgar sex song a joke'". Toronto Sun. April 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  12. ^ "Brian McKnight Officially Re-Releasing Sexual Anthem". April 26, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  13. ^ MaxwellSchad. "Brian McKnight on why he wrote "If You're Ready to Learn"". YouTube. Retrieved 2014.
  14. ^ "Exclusive: Brian McKnight Teams With Kobalt for New Single 'Uh Oh Feeling'". Billboard. August 14, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  15. ^ "Brian McKnight releases 12th studio album 'Better'". Singersroom. February 29, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  16. ^ a b c Kostanczuk, Bob (May 11, 2017). "McKnight enjoys 'rebirth' with new single, album". Post-Tribune. Retrieved 2017.
  17. ^ Graff, Gary. "Brian McKnight at Sound Board, 3 Things To Know". The Oakland Press. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ "Brian Mcknight on Instagram: "She said yes took me 42 years to find her and I'm never letting her go I'm so in love with you baby #iloveourlife #priceless..."". Instagram. Retrieved 2019.
  19. ^ "Brian McKnight Marries Leilani Malia Mendoza in New Year's Eve Ceremony". Us Weekly. January 2, 2018. Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ "Brian McKnight Biography". Retrieved 2018.
  21. ^ Jones, Joyce (June 5, 2014). "This in Black History". Bet. Retrieved 2018.
  22. ^ "CD REVIEWS: Bif Naked, System Of A Down, Zeke and many more". Chart Attack, September 4, 2001 By: Debbie Bento, Darrin Keene
  23. ^ "Pop Awards 2018, the 1st annual Pop Awards". Pop Awards. Retrieved 2019.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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