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For Brian McKnight, Music Will Help Us Get Through The Coronavirus Crisis

This picture taken on March 22, 2018 shows US singer Brian McKnight performing during a concert in Surabaya. (Juni Kriswanto/AFP via Getty Images)
This picture taken on March 22, 2018 shows US singer Brian McKnight performing during a concert in Surabaya. (Juni Kriswanto/AFP via Getty Images)
This article is more than 3 years old.

Singer-songwriter Brian McKnight performed requests on his keyboard during an Instagram concert earlier this month to support the World Health Organization and Global Citizen.

His show is one of many performances from artists taking to social media to entertain their fans during uncertain times. McKnight says his virtual concerts pre-date the coronavirus pandemic but this time, he wanted to play for a good cause.

“People are going back to more traditional forms of entertainment to be the buffer that's getting them through the tough days that we've seen and the ones that are ahead,” he says. “And hopefully that permeates our lives moving forward because there are so many people out there that still love music.”

While his career began 30 years ago, many fans felt like McKnight’s voice sounded straight out of the 1990s on Instagram. He stays in shape to protect the ways his voice sounds, he says.

Since singing is mostly breathing, staying fit makes it easier to hit and hold notes, he says.

“I understand the instrument that I've been given and I've always, from day one, taken care of it,” he says.

McKnight wrote his latest song, “Nobody,” for his wife, Leilani Malia Mendoza, who he’s been with for seven and a half years. He believes “Nobody” is the greatest song he’s ever written.

People will ask him about hit songs like “Back At One,” but the lyrics he writes about his wife are something different.

“Every song that I've written since Leilani came into my life has been about her and about us and about our life,” he says. “This is the first time in my life where I've written songs that actually mean something to me.”

Though he found love later in life, McKnight says he wouldn’t trade it away for anything.

“I don't think about anyone. I'm never going to touch anyone. I'm never going to, you know, look at anyone,” he says. “That's what love does for you. And that's what I wanted to convey in this song.”

Though he wouldn’t consider himself retired, McKnight thinks his upcoming album “Exodus” will be his last time releasing new music. He wants to spend more time with his wife and family, and less time on the road working — which he’s been doing since he was 19.

“After 20 albums, I think I've said it all,” he says.

Emiko Tamagawa produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Tinku RayAllison Hagan adapted it for the web. 

This segment aired on April 27, 2020.


Tonya Mosley Correspondent, Here & Now
Tonya Mosley was the LA-based co-host of Here & Now.


Allison Hagan Digital Producer, Here & Now
Allison Hagan is a digital producer for Here & Now.



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