This Day in Black History: June 5, 1969

Singer Brian McKnight was born in Buffalo, New York.

Posted: 06/05/2014 12:00 AM EDT

R&B singer, songwriter and producer Brian McKnight, the youngest of four boys, was born on June 5, 1968, into a family that used music in part to express their Seventh-Day Adventist faith. McKnight's grandfather served as minister of music at their Buffalo temple, his mother played the piano and sang in the choir, and he and his brothers formed an a capella gospel quartet.

The family moved to Orlando, Florida, when McKnight was eight and like most teenaged boys, sports became a passion, but music ultimately was his true love. He learned how to play the trumpet and the piano and formed a band while still in high school. And, unbeknownst to his mother, the teenager was "painting on a mustache and playing clubs."

The young musician followed his older brother Claude to Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, but upon his arrival, Claude and his gospel group Take 6 got a record deal. In March of his sophomore year, the strict Christian institution expelled McKnight for having a girl in his dorm room. He then made a deal with his mother, who wanted him to return home, that he would do so if he didn't have his own recording deal by June.

Inspired by the tight deadline, the 19-year-old signed on with Mercury/Polygram and released his debut album in 1992. It hit no. 17 on the Billboard charts and one single went gold.

Since then, McKnight has had a remarkable string of solo hits as well as duets and collaborations in a broad range of genres from gospel to rap. He has received several Grammy Award nominations and has won American Music, NAACP Image and Soul Train awards. He also has produced and written music for other artists.

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 (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

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