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Brian McKnight Has No Problem With Smooth Jazz Label

Of the Oakland Press

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Brian McKnight’s big hits have primarily been in the R&B and pop worlds, with a little bit of country thanks to his 2006 hook-up with Rascal Flatts.

But he’s perfectly comfortable being part of the smooth jazz world, too, and headlining this weekend’s Smooth JazzFest at Detroit’s Chene Park.

“I don’t have a problem with it, necessarily,” says McKnight, 40, who hosts a morning radio show on Los Angeles Smooth Jazz station KTWVFM. “I think my fans know what I do and they’ll come by and support me.

“What you find is people who are into smooth jazz are just into great music; it doesn’t necessarily have to be a genre or a type. I think the media and everybody compartmentalized everything, but when I was a kid I could hear Willie Nelson and Earth, Wind & Fire on the same station. Now that I’m older, I’m not concerned about labels. I’m so diversified now, it’s OK.”

The diversification is keeping McKnight extremely busy these days. In addition to his radio show, he’s preparing for the Sept. 26 launch of a weekly late-night talk show that’s been signed to CW affiliates in 218 markets so far. He’s also finishing up his next album, which features duets with Stevie Wonder and Jill Scott and should be out this year, and is helping his sons, performing as McKnight, record their first album.

“I’ve got no problem working hard,” explains McKnight, who’s also appeared onstage in the musicals “Chicago” and “Cheaters” and was on the latest season of Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” “I knew from an early age no one was gonna work for me just ’cause I’m a nice guy.

“People think I’m crazy when I say this, but I want to work as hard as I can the next two, three years with all the opportunities presented, then retire and just kick back. It probably won’t happen, but it sure motivates me to work hard right now.”

The V98.7 Smooth JazzFest runs Friday through Sunday (June 12-14)at Chene Park, 2500 Atwater St. at Chene Street, Detroit. Jonathan Butler, Marion Meadows, the Gentlemen of the Night and Larry Lee & the Back in the Day Band perform at 6 p.m. Friday. Brian McKnight, Guitars and Saxes 2009 and Seriux & Friends perform at 4 p.m. Saturday; and Boney James, Kindred the Family Soul, Alexander Zonjic & Friends and Jesse Palter & the Alter Ego perform at 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $40 Gold Circle and $30 general admission per day; weekend passes are $105 Gold Circle and $75 general admission. Call (313) 393-7128 or visit www.wvmv.com.

Web Site: www.wvmv.com

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