It’s all about multi-tasking for Brian McKnight. The Grammy-nominated songwriter, singer and producer prides himself on juggling five different things at once, especially when he’s driving. A typical afternoon for McKnight consists of speeding down Los Angeles roadways after his 6-9 a.m. morning radio show on Smooth Jazz, 94.7 FM the Wave, to his newly acquired favorite spot–the golf course. It’s been this way for the past few months, since his latest release Ten, his first on Warner Bros. and his tenth album overall. “I’m the king of the multi-task. I can talk on the phone, text on my sidekick, watch the NBA game and drive at the same time,” McKnight says, in route to a 4 p.m. tee off.
He’s in his 2007 Range Rover, equipped with a Direct TV Satellite dish, ensuring that he–a TV and sports lover–doesn’t miss any games. “I have one room at my house that has five TVs, so I can see what’s going on with every game. I have an overwhelming need to be entertained,” he chuckles.
This propensity to stay focused, but aware of what’s going on around him, translates to his stage persona; he’s able to communicate a message and navigate his way through his performance, recreating moments that are intimate and tender in song. “I have to remember lyrics, and play and sing at the same time. I have to be funny and entertaining, so I guess that’s multi-tasking,” McKnight says. “You have to make every woman in the audience imagine you’re singing just to them.”
If his success is a measure of how he communicates emotion to his audiences, then he’s at the top of his game with 16 million albums sold since his self-titled debut, Brian McKnight (Mercury Records, 1992). McKnight, a multi-instrumentalist, is best known for his love songs–“Back at One,” “Anytime” and “One Last Cry.”
In addition to his great talent, cars are also part of his success, even when he was growing up in Buffalo, New York with big dreams. “I wanted a Ferrari, like “Magnum PI.” By the time I was 30 I had one. I got to live my dream,” he says. He’s owned more than 40 cars since he recorded his first album. “I’m a car fanatic. I’ve driven everything there is. I truly believe a man should have at least three cars at once; he needs an SUV, a sedan and a sports car.”
These days, he’s become more conservative with his purchases – owning two classic statements, his Range Rover and a 2006 Bentley Continental GT coupe. “As I’ve gotten older, I realized I don’t have the garage space. I had seven cars, and it didn’t make any sense, so I’ve gotten into other things,” McKnight describes. He adores his two cars, with the Range Rover as his daily driver and the Bentley for days he wants to stretch out his legs.
Besides being a car enthusiast, McKnight also owns three motorcycles–an American Iron Horse Texas Chopper, a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 and a Yamaha R1. Arlen Ness Motorcycles is custom building him a fourth bike in Dublin, California. “I started riding dirt bikes when I was six. I learned to ride street bikes and the crotch rockets when I was 23,” he says.
Back when he was heavy into car collecting, it was all about performance. “I’m a speed demon, too. I’ve had Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches. I’ve taken the Richard Petty NASCAR [driving] course twice,” he explains. “That’s a fun thing to do, but they don’t really let you go balls out like you would like to.”