Brian McKnight is "almost done" with his first set of all-new material in three years and predicts its first single could "go to radio in the next two weeks."
"If the deadline was today, I'd be perfectly comfortable putting a record out," McKnight tells Billboard.com. "But I didn't want to rush and push anything. I wanted to let the ideas grow and evolve, naturally. As the deadline approaches I'm getting more and more creative; I wrote two songs today before I even sat down at the piano."
The as-yet-untitled album, which will be a joint venture between McKnight's own label and E1, will be his first studio since "Ten" in 2006. The singer, songwriter, musician and producer says that he's "taken some different directions" this time, ranging from "five to six Brian McKnight kind of songs that you'd expect" -- including the planned first single, "What I've Been Waiting For" -- to one track that has "a reggae feeling that I've never done before." McKnight says he's also been influenced by his sons, who are concurrently recording their own album.
"I get my songs to a certain point and take them to my oldest son and say, 'What would you do here?'," McKnight says. "I'm completely influenced by what they're doing. Their record sounds like everything from Marvin Gaye to Metallica."
McKnight's album also features duets with Stevie Wonder on a song called "Without You" and with Jill Scott on "More Than Just a Thing."
The album isn't the only new venture McKnight is working on. Starting Sept. 26 he'll have a weekly late-night talk show airing during weekends on 218 (so far) CW affiliates. He says the program will be "not unlike what others are doing but a little closer to what Arsenio used to do. I'm willing to put people on (that) others won't, and have the other people that everyone else has, too."
McKnight, who has a morning radio show on Smooth Jazz KTWV-FM, plans to use his Internet site to let fans submit questions for his guests, and he promises that he'll find "ways to be funny" without trying to become a stand-up comedian. Musically he plans to "have everyone, across so many different genres," including pals such as Justin Timberlake and Rascal Flatts. "It'll be like, 'Come over to my place,' except with a studio audience," McKnight says. "And, of course, at some point of the show I will sing."