Antoine Knight is an Atlanta-based alto sax player born and raised in Pensacola. He recently visited his hometown for his high school reunion and talked with the IN about his music and career.
Knight started playing the sax, or breathing life into it, as he says, when he was just 11. He was exposed to music by his family with artists such as Jr. Walker, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley.
The exposure led him to take up a musical instrument.
In his early 30s he was in Atlanta attending the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church when he had the pleasure of performing with some of gospel’s heavy hitters, Yolanda Adams and Jennifer Holiday. He says, “They were the feature act, and I was able to play along with them. I was in the right place at the right time.”
Attending college in Florida he studied engineering and military science. Currently, he serves in the U.S. Army Reserves. When asked about his dual career he says, “The Army loved that I was a musician. They were very supportive of my music; they would all come out to see me play. I was even hired to perform at functions. It was moral publicity—I am a completely clean musician, and I run my music career using my military training.”
“I was called into the office of a two-star admiral. I was nervous when I walked into his office, but all he wanted was to buy some of my CD’s and get an autograph,” Knight said, laughing as he told the story.
Knight’s 2004 debut project “In the Red” won him critical acclaim. Normally, being in the red is considered a negative. The title of the album came from his bible study class, where he learned that profound statements are printed in red—hence, the name of the album.
He normally plays normal gigs and functions, so being in the studio was a new experience for him. He says this of the adventure: “Being in the studio for the first time consisted of a lot of trial and error. When you are in there, you are focused on producing a product. Making mistakes can be as important as getting it right. There were ups and downs and challenges.”
His second album, “Walk Da Walk,” is a versatile one that includes gospel, 70s, R&B, jazz and funk. About making it Knight says, “This album is a testimony on my journey. It was about being there, done that. My first album took nine months, my second four years to produce. I had to go through some things. All of those experiences offered growth in playing, songwriting and production.”
When asked about what went into his choice of saxophone over all the other instruments out there, he says he chose it because most of the others you hit or strum, but the saxophone is a voice, sounds like a spirit, you breathe life into it.
Knight is listening to the sounds of Art Porter these days. Although Porter died 15 years ago, he found a video on You Tube and really loves his energy for life and his ability as an entertainer to charge a crowd. He thinks he may have gotten his entertaining skills from Porter.
As for what is next for Knight, he is working on a third album. He has been putting more material together than ever. He expects to have the album out by 2013.
Knight hopes to play in Pensacola soon. He invites locals to hear his sound. “Come out and see me at the show. When I perform it will be unique. I have a set concept and we will play it like you haven’t heard it before. We play with passion, we stand on every note we play. That’s my draw.”