Gladys Knight: Wikis


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Gladys Knight

Knight in concert at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California, on October 12, 2006.
Background information
Birth name Gladys Maria Knight
Also known as The Empress of Soul
Born May 28, 1944 (1944-05-28) (age 65)
Origin Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Genres R&B, soul
Occupations Singer-songwriter, actress, author, humanitarian
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1952–present
Labels Vee-Jay, Motown, Buddah, Columbia, MCA, Verve
Associated acts Gladys Knight & the Pips,

Gladys Maria Knight (born May 28, 1944), known as the "Empress of Soul",[1][2] is an American R&B/soul singer-songwriter, actress, businesswoman, humanitarian, and author. She is best known for the hits she recorded during the 1960s and 1970s, for both the Motown and Buddah Records labels, with her group Gladys Knight & the Pips, the most famous incarnation of which also included her brother Merald "Bubba" Knight and her cousins Edward Patten and William Guest. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Early life

Knight was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of Elizabeth (née Woods) and Merald Knight, Sr., a postal worker.[3] She first achieved minor fame by winning Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour TV show contest at the age of 7 in 1952. The following year, she, her brother Merald, sister Brenda, and cousins William and Elenor Guest formed a musical group called The Pips (named after another cousin, James "Pip" Woods). By the end of the decade, the act had begun to tour, and had replaced Brenda Knight and Eleanor Guest with Gladys Knight's cousin Edward Patten and friend Langston George.

Knight discovered she was pregnant in 1960, and married her high school sweetheart James Newman. After a miscarriage, Knight returned to performing with the Pips. In 1961, Bobby Robinson produced the single "Every Beat of My Heart" for the group, which became a #1 R&B and #6 pop hit when released on Vee-Jay Records. In 1962, Langston George left the group, which at that time renamed itself Gladys Knight & the Pips and continued as a quartet.

In 1962, after scoring a second hit, "Letter Full of Tears", Knight became pregnant again and gave birth to a son, Jimmy III, that year. She retired from the road to raise her child while The Pips toured on their own. After giving birth in 1963 to a daughter, Kenya, Knight returned to recording with the Pips in order to support her family.

Success with The Pips

Knight and the Pips perform aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger on November 1, 1981.

Gladys Knight & the Pips joined the Motown roster in 1966, and, although regarded as a second-string act, scored several hit singles, including "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," (recorded later by Marvin Gaye), "Friendship Train" (1969), "If I Were Your Woman" (1970), "I Don't Want To Do Wrong" (1971), the Grammy Award winning "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)" (1972), and "Daddy Could Swear (I Declare)" (1973). In their early Motown career Gladys Knight and the Pips toured as the opening act for Diana Ross and The Supremes. Gladys Knight stated in her memoirs that Miss Ross kicked her off the tour because the audience's reception to Knight's soulful performance overshadowed her. Berry Gordy later told Gladys that she was giving his act a hard time.[4]

The act left Motown for a better deal with Buddah Records in 1973, and achieved full-fledged success that year with hits such as the Grammy-winning "Midnight Train to Georgia" (#1 on the pop and R&B chart), "I've Got to Use My Imagination," and "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me." In the summer of 1974, Knight and the Pips recorded the soundtrack to the successful film Claudine with producer Curtis Mayfield. The act was particularly successful in Europe, and especially the United Kingdom. However, the Buddah hits all followed a number of years after their success in the U.S.. For example "Midnight Train to Georgia" hit the UK pop charts Top 5 in the summer of 1976, a full three years after its success in the U.S..

During this period of greater recognition, Knight made her motion picture acting debut in the film Pipe Dreams, a romantic drama set in Alaska. The film failed at the box-office, but Knight did receive a Golden Globe Best New Actress nomination.

Knight and the Pips continued to have hits until the late 1970s, when they were forced to record separately due to legal issues, resulting in Knight's first solo LP recordings--Miss Gladys Knight (1978) on Buddah and Gladys Knight (1979) on Columbia Records. Having divorced James Newman II in 1973, Knight married Barry Hankerson (future uncle of R&B singer Aaliyah), then Detroit mayor Coleman Young's executive aide. Knight and Hankerson remained married for four years, during which time they had a son, Shanga Ali. Upon their divorce, Hankerson and Knight were embroiled in a heated custody battle over Shanga Ali.

In the early 1980s, Johnny Mathis invited Gladys to record two duets – "When A Child Is Born" (previously a hit for Mathis) and "The Lord's Prayer".

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Signing with Columbia Records in 1980 and restored to its familiar quartet form, Gladys Knight & the Pips began releasing new material. The act enlisted former Motown producers Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson for their first two LPs--About Love (1980) and Touch (1981). During this period, Knight kicked a gambling addiction to the game baccarat.

In 1987, Knight decided to pursue a solo career, and she and the Pips recorded their final LP together, All Our Love (1987), for MCA Records. Its lead single, "Love Overboard", was a successful hit and won a third Grammy for the act as well. After a successful 1988 tour, the Pips retired and Knight began her solo career. Gladys Knight & the Pips were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame[5] in 1989 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame[6] in 1996.

Solo music career

Knight and Ron Winan's Chicken & Waffles in Atlanta.

While still with The Pips, Knight joined with Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John on the 1986 AIDS benefit single, "That's What Friends Are For" which won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. In 1989, Gladys Knight recorded the title track for the James Bond movie Licence to Kill, a top 10 hit both in the UK, reaching #6, and Germany.

Knight's third solo LP, Good Woman, was released by MCA in 1991. It rose to #1 on the R&B album chart and featured the #2 R&B hit "Men". The album also featured "Superwoman", written by Babyface and featuring Dionne Warwick and Patti LaBelle. Knight and LaBelle would collaborate the same year on "I Don't Do Duets", a duet with Patti LaBelle from LaBelle's album Burnin'.

Her fourth solo LP, Just for You, went gold and was nominated for the 1995 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. During this period, Knight was briefly married to motivational speaker Les Brown. It was also during this period that her eldest son, Jimmy III, died in his sleep at the age of 36.[7]

In 1992 Vernon Ray Blue II, choir master of the year asked Gladys to record his first single "He Lifted Me"

Now married to William McDowell, Knight joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1997. She had occasionally teased LDS Church president, the late Gordon B. Hinckley, that his flock needs to inject some "pep" into their music.[8] Knight created and now directs the Mormon-themed choir Saints Unified Voices.[9] SUV has released a Grammy Award-winning CD titled One Voice, and occasionally performs at the LDS church firesides.

In 2008, a duet between Knight and Johnny Mathis was released on Mathis' album A Night to Remember. Knight is ranked number eighteen on VH1 network's list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock.

In the spring of 2008, Knight appeared alongside Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle and Diana Ross at the 'Divas with Heart' concert in aid of cardiac research, at New York's Radio City Hall.

In 2008 Gladys, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller performed on American Idol to raise money for charity.

Michael Jackson Funeral

In 2009 Knight sang "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" and "The Lord's Prayer" at the funeral service for Michael Jackson.[10]

UK Farewell Tour

In October 2009, Gladys started her UK Farewell tour[11]which featured Tito Jackson as her supporting act and special appearances by Dionne Warwick.

Speaking ahead of the Manchester show, Jackson said: "The UK was a very special place to my brother Michael and I'm so excited to be able to pay my respect to his fans here. To be able to do this whilst supporting our dear friend Gladys is a complete blessing." On the October 9 concert, his mother Katherine Jackson and his brother Randy were acknowledged in the audience.

The UK Farewell Tour featured higher production value than previous "Gladys Knight, a mic and a light" appearances by Gladys in the UK. A glossy program was available and the show featured pre-produced animation on large on-stage screens. The tour was promoted by an appearance on the TV program Later... with Jools Holland where Gladys performed If I Were Your Woman and Help Me Make It Through the Night.

Acting and other work

Knight guest-starred on several television series throughout the 1980s and 1990s ,with roles on Benson, The Jeffersons, A Different World, Living Single, The Jamie Foxx Show and New York Undercover. In 1985, she co-starred on the CBS sitcom Charlie & Co. with comedian Flip Wilson. It lasted for one season. In April 2009, she made a special guest appearance and performed a song on Tyler Perry's House of Payne. Knight has also made a number of television cameo appearances, including Las Vegas, and 30 Rock.

Knight's son Shanga owns a chain of chicken and waffles restaurants based in Atlanta, bearing her name.[12]Gladys Knight & Ron Winans' Chicken & Waffles currently have three locations in the Atlanta area. [13] In 2009, Gladys was featured in Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself and performed her song The Need To Be from the 1974 album I Feel a Song.'

Awards, Honors and Achievements

  • Grammy Awards
    • 1986 Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal - "That's What Friends Are For" - Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight & Stevie Wonder.
    • 2001 Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album - "At Last"
    • 2004 Best Gospel Performance - "Heaven Help Us All" - Ray Charles & Gladys Knight.
    • 2005 Best Gospel Choir Or Chorus Album - One Voice - Gladys Knight & The Saints Unified Voices.
  • Other awards
    • 1992 Gladys Knight was awarded an Essence Award for Career Achievement.[14]
    • 1995 Gladys Knight was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.[15]
    • 1997: Gladys Knight received the Pinnacle Award during 5th Annual Trumpet Awards presentation in Atlanta, Georgia.[16]
    • 2005: Gladys Knight received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the BET cable network.
    • 2006: Gladys Knight received a Legendary Award from the Las Vegas Music Awards.
    • 2007: Gladys Knight received Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Artist during The 38th NAACP Image Awards.[17]
    • 2007: Gladys Knight was declared the "Empress of Soul" and presented with the 16th Annual Ella Award by the Society of Singers[1][2]
    • 2008: Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder were presented with the Best Living Legend Award at the 1st Annual The BET Honors.[18]
    • 2008: Gladys Knight received the Lifetime Diva Award at the Stardust Music Awards in March.
    • 2008: Gladys Knight was honored by The National Black Arts Festival and The Coca Cola Company at the 2008 Legends Celebration.[19]

Solo discography


  • 1978: "I'm Coming Home Again" (#54 U.S. R&B)
  • 1979: "Am I Too Late" (#45 U.S. R&B)
  • 1981: "When a Child Is Born" (with Johnny Mathis) (#74 UK)
  • 1985: "That's What Friends Are For" (with Dionne Warwick, Elton John & Stevie Wonder) (#1 U.S. Pop, #1 U.S. R&B, #1 U.S. AC, UK #16)
  • 1986 "Loving On Borrowed Time" (w/Bill Medley) (#16 US AC)
  • 1989: "License to Kill" (#69 U.S. R&B, #18 U.S. AC, #6 UK)
  • 1990: "If I Knew Then What I Know Now" (with Kenny Rogers) (#10 U.S. AC)
  • 1991: "Men" (#2 U.S. R&B)
  • 1991: "Meet Me in the Middle" (#78 U.S. R&B)
  • 1991: "Where Would I Be" (#66 U.S. R&B)
  • 1991: "Superwoman" (with Dionne Warwick & Patti LaBelle) (airplay-only)
  • 1994: "I Don't Want to Know" (#32 U.S. R&B)(#113 US POP)
  • 1994: "End of the Road" Medley: "If You Don't Know Me by Now"/"Love Don't Love Nobody" (#76 U.S. R&B)
  • 1995: "Next Time" (#30 U.S. R&B)
  • 1996: "Missing You" (with Brandy, Tamia & Chaka Khan) (#25 U.S. Pop, #10, U.S. R&B, #30 U.S. AC)


  • 1978: Miss Gladys Knight (#57 U.S. R&B)
  • 1979: Gladys Knight (#79 U.S. R&B)
  • 1991: Good Woman (#45 U.S. Pop, #1 U.S. R&B)
  • 1994: Just for You (#53 U.S. Pop, #6 U.S. R&B)
  • 1998: Many Different Roads (#21 U.S. Gospel)
  • 2001: At Last (#98 U.S. Pop, #30 U.S. R&B)
  • 2005: One Voice (with Saints Unified Voices) (#95 U.S. R&B, #21 U.S. Gospel)
  • 2006: A Christmas Celebration (with Saints Unified Voices) (#155 U.S. Pop, #59 U.S. R&B, #1 U.S. Gospel)
  • 2006: Before Me (#93 U.S. Pop, #18 U.S. R&B, #4 U.S. Jazz)

Published works

  • Knight, Gladys. At Home With Gladys Knight, McGraw-Hill, 2001 - ISBN 1580400752
  • Knight, Gladys. Between Each Line of Pain and Glory: My Life Story, Hyperion Press, 1998 - ISBN 0786883715


  1. ^ a b "The Voice, Winter 2007, Society of Singer's 16th Ella Awards". 
  2. ^ a b " article reviewing Society of Singer's 16th Ella Award". 
  3. ^ Grantham, Loretta (1999-11-11). "KNIGHT'S QUEST: END DIABETES, FOR MOM'S SAKE". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  4. ^ Knight, Gladys. Between Each Line of Pain and Glory:My Life Story. Hyperion, New York, NY 1997, p. 179.
  5. ^ "The Georgia Music Hall of Fame Music Store". 
  6. ^ "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Gladys Knight and The Pips". 
  7. ^ "James Newman, Gladys Knight's Son And Manager, Dies In Las Vegas At 36". 
  8. ^ 2006 September, Desert Saints Magazine
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Gladys Knight moves Jackson mourners to tears". 
  11. ^ "The Empress of Soul-Gladys Knight". 
  12. ^ "Official Gladys Knight & Ron Winans Chicken and Waffles website". 
  13. ^ Family Business - Gladys Knight co-owner of restaurant in Atlanta Jet Dec 11, 2000
  14. ^ "Oprah Winfrey & Denzel Washington present Essence Award to Gladys Knight". 
  15. ^ "Recipient and location of Hollywood Walk of Fame Star". 
  16. ^ "The 5th Annual Trumpet Awards salutes outstanding black achievers during gala ceremony in Atlanta". 
  17. ^ "The 38th NAACP Image Awards.". 
  18. ^ "1st Annual The BET Honors". 
  19. ^ "Westmark, Jan. Celebrity News Service". 

External links

Simple English

Gladys Knight is a female singer with the music group The Pips.

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