R&B singer-songwriter Brian McKnight’s return to the annual Subaru Newport Beach Jazz Festival at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach on June 5 will be an additional special occasion.
Not only is he excited to take the stage and perform new music from his latest album “Exodus,” as well as hits like “Back at One” and “Anytime,” the show also falls on his 53rd birthday. .
“It’s always great to perform in that venue over there,” McKnight said in a recent phone interview. “But it’s actually my birthday that day.” So it’s interesting because for most of my career, I rarely have a show on my birthday, so it’s an added treat.
The Newport Beach Jazz Festival postponed its 25th anniversary in 2020 due to the pandemic and instead celebrated the milestone in October 2021. Eight months later, the festival is back on track and takes place June 3-5.
“The event has always been in June,” NBJF promoter and president of Omega Events Rich Sherman said in a separate interview. “It was really important for us to come back to that period, but we had a huge success last October and we feel very lucky to have been able to pivot to that.”
Episode 26 kicks off with a sold-out VIP performance by Marion Meadows and Alex Bugnon on June 3 at the 1,000-seat Hyatt Amphitheater in Back Bay. The event then migrates to the expansive grassy grounds of the Back Bay Golf Course on June 4-5.
Saturday’s performances include CeeLo Green, who will pay homage to the godfather of soul, James Brown, with his Soul Brotha #100 tribute show, as well as Eric Benét, Peter White, Vincent Ingala, Morgan James, Kim Scott and Four80East. Brian Culbertson leads Sunday’s lineup, which also includes McKnight, Marcus Miller, DW3, Lindsey Webster, Adam Hawley, Phil Denny and Derek Bordeaux.
Early in his career, McKnight said he remembered hearing about the Newport Beach Jazz Festival when other artists described it as having a great vibe and a unique ocean-view location. He’s performed at the festival several times, but hasn’t been back since 2014, when he performed alongside R&B superstar Chaka Khan and jazz saxophonist Dave Koz.
“I had heard of it and always wanted to play there,” he recalls. “So now, after playing there, it’s really cool and nostalgic. It’s been such a long time going event and it’s a staple in this part of the country that people look forward to every year.
McKnight said he looked forward to reuniting with the other artists — especially Green, Benét and Miller — who he’s been friends with for years. Due to the pandemic, he said they haven’t had any in-person interactions, so he’ll be sure to take the opportunity to facetime.
“I think, on the artist side and on the fan side, maybe we took it a bit for granted before because we never thought it could be taken down,” he said of the fact of having to take nearly two years off due to the spread of COVID-19. “Now that we’re back on the stages with live audiences, I think we’re going to enjoy it more than ever.”
At the start of the shutdowns in 2020, McKnight released his 16th studio album, “Exodus,” which he said would be his last full-length album of all-original material. But that doesn’t mean he’s done making music, he clarified, as he released a new single, “Faithfully,” in October 2021.
“Because of the way things are with streaming, it lends itself to releasing the best song you’ve got right now and because a song can do what it does, it doesn’t have to be tied down to an album,” he explained. “When I say I won’t be releasing an entire album of new material, that doesn’t mean I won’t be releasing any music. It just means you probably won’t get another album, but there will be more music, It’s certain.
When he wasn’t working on music or hanging out with his family during the pandemic, McKnight was honing his dance moves. He joined the cast of “The Masked Singer” spin-off show “The Masked Dancer” and wore a cricket costume while performing. He reached the fourth episode of the competition.
“I don’t know if there was anything I could have done to do better on this show other than maybe being younger, which I can’t do,” he said. stated with a laugh.
Subaru Newport Beach Jazz Festival
When: 6 p.m. on June 3 and 10:30 a.m. on June 4 and 5
Or: Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, 1107 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach
Tickets: $125 general admission day pass on Saturday or Sunday; $200 general admission pass for two days; One-day VIP pass for Saturday or Sunday for $225. Friday’s VIP concert is sold out; all other passes are available at festivals.hyattconcerts.com.