Valentine’s weekend is here. Love is in the air and vocal legend Brian McKnight will heat things up at Ocean Resort Casino 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15. The 16-time Grammy nominee, celebrated for his smooth vocals, will perform some of his favorites from his decades-long career.
McKnight has sold more than 25 million records worldwide, with several that have gone two and three-times platinum. Trying to fit 25 years of chart-topping hits into one show is not an easy task. “It’s tough, but I’m going to do my best to play as many of them as possible,” says McKnight of his quarter of a century-long career.
As such a celebrated musician, McKnight is on the road a lot and performs about 150 shows a year. Throughout his career, he’s played several shows in Atlantic City.
“I love Atlantic City, especially this time of year. It’s winter and cold on the East Coast, but Atlantic City has a lot to do inside. It’s a great place to visit. Plus, there’s so much history in Atlantic City. I’m kind of a history buff, so it’s great to be there and to be a part of that.”
Lately, when McKnight has been home, he’s putting the finishing touches a new album “Bedtime Story,” set to be released this June.
“This album is an entire soundtrack for the bedroom. I joke that you may only need six or seven minutes, but this album gives you 60. You won’t have to yell to Alexa to change songs, you know it’s all set for you,” McKnight says.
As one of the Top 5 most streamed R&B artists, McKnight proves he’s still as legendary as ever. Most often recognized for his velvety vocals, he’s also a multi-instrumentalist.
“My favorite to play would have to be the instruments I play on a daily basis: the piano, guitar, bass, drums and percussion. I can also play the wind instruments, but I don’t play them all the time,” McKnight says. Though McKnight grew up around gospel music and church choirs, he found his sound on his own. “I can say that I’m almost 100 percent self-trained.”
After more than two decades in the music industry, McKnight can add another title to his moniker, that of entrepreneur. He has helped to create and launch an app called VRL — Video Request Line. This platform allows fans to essentially “book” celebrities.
“About five years ago I was constantly getting requests through Instagram and Facebook for video messages for everything from birthdays, to anniversaries and graduations,” McKnight says. Through VRL, fans can reach out to McKnight, and other celebrities, to purchase personalized video messages. “It’s very easy, if you want to get a personalized message from me, for example, you just click on my page. There is an entire menu of songs to choose from. You input the personalized message, the due date ... It’s been really interesting to market myself to fans this way. Trying to explain this platform to artists has been a little more difficult.
“It’s a learning process,” McKnight says, “but every day, without fail it grows.”
Through an iconic music career and a budding business, it may be McKnight’s role as dad that truly pulls on his heart-strings.
“My kids (Brian, Jr. and Niko) have sung with me for years, now they’re getting older and getting their own careers started. They want to be independent and stand on their own,” says McKnight, adding that those first few years in the business are a struggle. “As a parent you want to hand your kids the world, so it’s tough to step back and let them stand on their own. But, it’s what’s best for them. It’s a different business now and a different way of doing things, but they’re getting there,” he says.
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