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BRIAN MCKNIGHT began his storied recording career in 1992 with his self-titled album. That debut was released at a time when the R&B/Pop charts were dominated by some of the most iconic albums the genre has ever seen including Whitney Houston’s Bodyguard Soundtrack, TLC’s Ooooooohhh…On The Tip, En Vogue’s Funky Divas, Mary J Blige’s What’s The 411, Michael Jackson’s Dangerous, and many many more.
Amongst all that competition, Brian’s firm sense of musical identity and knack for intimately engaging R&B drove his critically acclaimed debut into the Billboard Top 200 album chart, and delivered his very first Top 20 single, “One Last Cry”. Since 1992 Brian has charted dozens of albums and songs including R&B classics “Anytime”, “Back At One”, “Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda”, and “Love Is”. Now fast forward to 2020, the year that his 20th album, the appropriately titled EXODUS is released via the The SoNo Recording Group.
“[You know], I look at my life and I look at other folks who have continued to do their thing until they literally drop dead,” ponders Brian, while explaining the inspiration behind EXODUS and the prospect of stepping away from recording in the future. “Being the architect for all of the music throughout my career, I think I’ve said it. I found love – real love – later on in life and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life on the road every day. I want to spend that life with my wife and my family, and doing some other things. It’s just making a decision to stop doing it the way I’ve been doing it now. I’m not really saying that I’m retiring. I think of it as kind of bowing out of this at a time when I feel comfortable doing this and do it on my own terms. I have my whole career.”
It was the music that shaped not only the artistic direction for EXODUS but determined the path of Brian’s career moving forward. After releasing several singles since his last album Brian had an epiphany fueled by his relationship with his wife Leilani. “When I released `When I’m Gone’ I had a different idea of what the record was going to be,” Brian divulges. “That’s when I switched gears and came up with the idea of EXODUS. Literally, I was sitting on the bed with my guitar watching my wife doing her makeup about ten feet away from where I was sitting. And I have to tell you that she’s an endless source of inspiration for me. I just look at her and I hear music playing. It may seem cliché, but clichés are clichés because they’re true. The sun shines a little brighter, the air is a little cleaner when she’s in my view…and since I met her it’s been that way.”
Brian’s revelation is clearly expressed on the beautiful new single “Nobody.” With romantic lyrics like “I’ll kiss nobody’s else’s lips, your command is my every wish, you can believe for sure, I’ll be nobody’s man but yours,” it’s obvious that he still the masters the art of profound passionate lyricism that shines a light on his love for Leilani. “I wanted her to know that it’s not just that I’m not going to kiss anybody or hold or touch anybody,” he shares, “I’m not going to look at anybody; I don’t have to think of anybody. I’m committed; I’m your man beyond just the idea of what people say. Truly in every aspect of my life, she is first…in everything.”
Those words bear much more than a mere ring of truth to anyone who has been listening closely to the music and messages of Brian McKnight throughout his career’s many spotlight moments. Over the course of 25 million albums sold worldwide, four Top Ten albums on the Billboard 200 album chart, 16 Grammy nominations, nine BET Awards nominations, American Music Awards and MTV Video Music Awards nominations, an NAACP Image Award (won “Outstanding Male Artist” in 2000) and a Soul Train Music Awards (Best R&B/Soul, Male; 1999), faithful fans and R&B music lovers have enjoyed a musical relationship with Brian McKnight that has resulted in platinum, double-platinum (1997’s Anytime) and triple-platinum (1997’s Back At One) certifications and a slew of Top 10 and Top 20 R&B/AC hits.
In 2016, Brian met Claude Villani, the founder and CEO of The SoNo Recording Group. That meeting resulted in the release of Brian’s first concert film and live album, An Evening with Brian McKnight. Brian was then ready to begin working on his next studio album, Genesis. Released in August 2017, Genesis, contained the chart-topping radio and streaming platform hits, “Everything”, “Forever”, “10 Millions Stars”, and “I Want U”. In 2019, there was no doubt in Brian’s mind that his next album will also be released under the SRG/ILS umbrella.
On Exodus R&B fans will be pleased to hear all the signature elements define Brian McKnight and his musical journey alongside the skill and maturity one can only earn after almost thirty years of recording and performing. “Since the last record was Genesis and I really felt that I was going back to my roots in a lot of ways on my last album, it seemed only fitting that I have this epiphany [life-wise] to call it EXODUS…sorta like book-ends. I’ve never tried to follow a trend necessarily; I always wanted when my music came on that you knew exactly who it was. I think that’s what this is that I’m doing with EXODUS. When you listen to it, the entire journey has to have a beginning and an end. I live my life kind of like average and I really try to do things on my own terms; I think I’ve done that almost since the beginning of my career. And I really want to get into this next chapter of my life, whatever that is in my life. So I’m really looking forward to that.”