[ENTERTAINMENT]2 Singers Hold Meeting, Hit Right NotesThe American rhythm and blues singer Brian McKnight and the Korean singer Cho Gyu-chan got together recently at Seoul's Shilla Hotel to talk about McKnight's fifth album, "Superhero," which McKnight came to Korea to promote. Cho is also in the spotlight with the recent release of his sixth album, "Haebing," which translates as "the thawing of ice." The two plan to sing a duet, "Thank You For Saving My Life," for an album McKnight will release at the end of the year.
Cho told McKnight that it was an honor to finally talk with one of his all-time favorite musicians. McKnight expressed his gratitude and said that the wonder of music is that it transcends language, time and space. He said music is a tool that people of all backgrounds can use to share the best that their cultures have to offer.
The Korean asked McKnight how he improvises his melodies at his home studio. McKnight said that his musical motifs tend to suddenly pop into his mind while he is alone, playing the guitar and piano. McKnight also said that he likes to finish all of his recording preparations before arriving at the studio to record with the other musicians, so he can start without test recordings.
Cho said he was concerned that many Korean singers are becoming lazy both in their performances and practice regimen. McKnight agreed that many singers today put more into their looks than their music. "Music videos are in a way killing off the real musicians," the American said.
Cho explained to McKnight how Korean broadcasting companies exert almost total control over Korean singers. McKnight said, "Hit songs are not the best songs." He said that the situation is not so different in the United States, but that most established artists there do not need the help of steady airplay.
When told how Korean fans appreciate his music, McKnight seemed very surprised and thankful. He said he assumed his popularity comes from creating songs grounded in what he trusts and believes in.
As a teenager, McKnight listened to and modeled his style after Stevie Wonder. By 20 or so he had gained a lot of confidence, he said, but he was still amazed when a compilation came out with one of his first songs on it.
Some other R&B artists, such as Alicia Keys and the late Aaliyah, have recently made inroads to commercial success. McKnight said this is a good sign that more young artists will start off early with R&B.
When Cho remarked that some of McKnight's music conveyed feelings of emptiness and solitude, McKnight said that because he is not so adept at expressing his inner feelings in words, he does it through music. Conversely, his more optimistic and warm tunes probably come from his religious devotion, he said.
Cho wrapped up the chat by asking McKnight about the title song on the American's new album, "Superhero." "I remember seeing Superman giving up all his powers for love," McKnight said. "A real everyday hero is someone with love and a sincere heart; this is what Superhero is about."
by Choe Jae-hee