After a few years spent concentrating on radio and television programs, Brian McKnight is re-focusing on his music — and doing it in the starkest way possible.
The singer and songwriter has, for the time being, put his band on the sideline and is doing solo shows — including one in Los Angeles this week that was filmed and recorded for the DVD and CD “Just Me,” which will also feature four new studio recordings. But the heart of the project is McKnight alone with his music.
“I’m basically going back to the way I started,” says the Buffalo-born McKnight, 41, who’s released eight studio albums and logged hits such as “Back At One,” Love of My Life,” “Anytime” and “Love Is,” the last a duet with Vanessa Williams. “I started playing in bars and then hotel lobbies when I was 15, very intimately with just a piano or just a guitar.
“Now I’ve brought it back full circle. I’m telling the stories behind the songs and basically giving people a real insight into not only what I do but how I do it, and why.”
McKnight is also confident that the solo approach gives his fans a greater appreciation for the songs themselves.
“I want to believe people aren’t just listening to the music or the beat; they’re actually listening to my lyrics,” he explains. “The only way to get them to do that is to just strip everything down and get back to the basics.
“So I’m not hiding behind production, behind a huge sound system or smoke and mirrors. I think that it gives people an insight into the real me because they’re able to understand the stories behind the songs.”
Brian McKnight performs at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at SoundBoard in the MotorCity Casino-Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $45 and $40. Call 313-237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.
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