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Gladys Knight

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Title: Gladys Knight  
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Subject: Aaliyah, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Best of Bond...James Bond, Dionne Warwick, Saints Unified Voices
Collection: 1944 Births, African-American Actresses, African-American Female Singers, African-American Latter Day Saints, American Contraltos, American Female Singers, American Film Actresses, American Latter Day Saints, American Soul Singers, American Television Actresses, Black Mormons, Converts to Mormonism, Dancing with the Stars (U.S. Tv Series) Participants, Gladys Knight & the Pips Members, Grammy Award Winners, Knight Family (Show Business), Living People, Musicians from Atlanta, Georgia, Participants in American Reality Television Series, Vee-Jay Records Artists, Writers from Georgia (U.S. State)
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Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight
Gladys Knight in 1969
Background information
Birth name Gladys Maria Knight
Also known as The Empress of Soul
Born (1944-05-28) May 28, 1944
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Genres R&B, boogie, funk, soul, gospel, pop
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, actress, businesswoman
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 1953–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 recording artist, songwriter, businesswoman, humanitarian and author. A seven-time Grammy Award-winner,[3] 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, which also included her brother Merald "Bubba" Knight and her cousins Edward Patten and William Guest.


  • Early life 1
  • Success with the Pips 2
  • Solo music career 3
  • UK Farewell Tour 4
  • Acting 5
    • Film 5.1
    • Television 5.2
  • Gladys Knight & Ron Winans' Chicken & Waffles 6
  • Personal life 7
  • Legacy 8
  • Awards, honors and achievements 9
    • Grammy Awards 9.1
    • Other awards and honors 9.2
    • Academic honors 9.3
  • Discography 10
    • Billboard Number 1 R&B Albums 10.1
    • Billboard Number 1 R&B Singles 10.2
  • Published works 11
  • Filmography 12
    • Television 12.1
    • Films 12.2
  • References 13
  • External links 14

Early life

Knight was born in

  • Official website
  • Gladys Knight at the Internet Movie Database
  • Gladys Knight at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Gladys Knight (b. 1944) New Georgia Encyclopedia
  • Saints Unified Voices
  • Article explaining the creation of Saints Unified Voices
  • Sharing the Gospel Through Music
  • (S.Africa) articleCity Press
  • (S.Africa) articleCapetown
  • Gladys Knight featured at the Hawaii Romance Festival, May 2008
  • Early article referencing Gladys Knight as Empress of Soul.
  • , "Empress of Soul closes out Jazzfest in style."Ottawa Sun
  • Buffalo Resort and Casino To Host "The Empress of Soul" Gladys Knight.
  • The Empress of Soul:Gladys Knight's Love and Life...
  • Article highlighting Georgia's musical heritage, referencing "Empress of Soul," Gladys Knight.
  • The Internet Movie Data Base
  • Legendary Empress of Soul Gladys Knight Returns to the Orleans Showroom.

External links

  1. ^ a b "The Voice, Winter 2007, Society of Singer's 16th Ella Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  2. ^ Empress of Soul" Gladys Knight will be giving a special performance at Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa, November 7""". September 22, 2010. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  3. ^ "Winners : Gladys Knight". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  4. ^ Grantham, Loretta (November 11, 1999). "KNIGHT'S QUEST: END DIABETES, FOR MOM'S SAKE". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved September 12, 2009. 
  5. ^ McClure, Rhonda R. (October 25, 2001). "Ancestry of Gladys Knight". Retrieved August 31, 2010. 
  6. ^ Knight, Gladys. Between Each Line of Pain and Glory: My Life Story. Hyperion, New York, NY 1997, p. 179.
  7. ^ "The Georgia Music Hall of Fame Music Store". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  8. ^ "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Gladys Knight and The Pips". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  9. ^ "James Newman, Gladys Knight's Son And Manager, Dies In Las Vegas At 36". Jet. 1999. 
  10. ^ "SUV Choir". SUV Choir. Retrieved July 4, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Divas Live 2004 : Full credits". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  12. ^ "Gladys Knight moves Jackson mourners to tears". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  13. ^ "Information on and review of the new single". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  14. ^ Friedman, Roger. "'"Lenny Kravitz Writes Gladys Knight an Oscar-Buzzed Song for 'The Butler. Retrieved August 10, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Gladys Knight 'On Top of the World' With New Album & TV Movie". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  16. ^ "Gladys Knight Shares Thoughts on Singers' Selling Sex". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  17. ^ "The Empress of Soul-Gladys Knight". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  18. ^ "Official Gladys Knight USB Wristband". Retrieved July 4, 2010. 
  19. ^ Gladys Knight bounced from Dancing With the Stars, The Vancouver Sun, April 25, 2012 
  20. ^ "Official Gladys Knight & Ron Winans Chicken and Waffles website". 
  21. ^ Family Business – Gladys Knight co-owner of restaurant in Atlanta. Jet December 11, 2000
  22. ^ "Jet – Google Books". 1995-10-09. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  23. ^ "Soul Survivor In Her New Memoir, Gladys Knight Looks Back At Nearly Five Decades In Show Business. Pips And All. By All Indications, The Singer's Story Is Far From Over. - philly-archives". 1997-10-05. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  24. ^ 2006 September, Desert Saints Magazine
  25. ^ Hudak, Joseph. "Gladys Knight – 100 Greatest Singers". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  26. ^ Oprah Winfrey & Denzel Washington present Essence Award to Gladys Knight on YouTube
  27. ^ "Hollywood Walk of Fame – Our list of Rock stars on the Walk". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  28. ^ "The 5th Annual Trumpet Awards salutes outstanding black achievers during gala ceremony in Atlanta". Jet. February 3, 1997. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  29. ^ "Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Gladys Knight | BET Awards | Videos". BET. 2005-06-25. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  30. ^ "The 38th NAACP Image Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  31. ^ " article reviewing Society of Singer's 16th Ella Award". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  32. ^ "1st Annual The BET Honors". Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  33. ^ "Celebrity News Service"Westmark, Jan. . Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  34. ^ "Gladys Knight". RAM Entertainment. 1989-03-30. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 


Year Title Role Notes
1976 Pipe Dreams Maria Wilson Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress Nominee
1987 Desperado Mona Lisa
1993 Twenty Bucks Mrs. McCormic
2003 Hollywood Homicide Olivia Robidoux
2006 Unbeatable Harold Phyllis
2006 Holidaze: The Christmas That Almost Didn't Happen Candie (voice)
2009 I Can Do Bad All by Myself Wilma
2014 Seasons of Love Ms. Angie Holiday TV movie


Year Title Role Notes
1983 The Jeffersons Herself "The Good Life" (Season 9: Episode 20)
1985–1986 Charlie & Co. Diana Richmond 18 episodes
1987 CBS Schoolbreak Special Dr. Donna Robinson "An Enemy Among Us" (Season 4: Episode 7)
1988 A Different World Herself "Three Girls Three" (Season 2: Episode 5)
1994 New York Undercover Natalie 2 episodes
1997 Living Single Odelle Jones 2 episodes
1999 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Chocolate "The Bremen Town Musicians" (Season 3: Episode 3)
1997–2001 The Jamie Foxx Show Janice King 2 episodes
2008 30 Rock Herself "210" (Season 2: Episode 10)
2009 House of Payne Herself "The Talent Show" (Season 5: Episode 20)
2012–2013 The First Family Grandma Carolyn 9 episodes



  • Knight, Gladys. At Home With Gladys Knight, McGraw-Hill, 2001 – ISBN 1-58040-075-2
  • Knight, Gladys. Between Each Line of Pain and Glory: My Life Story, Hyperion Press, 1998 – ISBN 0-7868-8371-5

Published works

Billboard Number 1 R&B Singles

Billboard Number 1 R&B Albums


Academic honors

Other awards and honors

Gladys Knight and the Pips earned an additional three Grammy Awards.

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
1987 "That's What Friends Are For" (Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight & Stevie Wonder) Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals Won
1992 "Superwoman" (Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle & Dionne Warwick) Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Nominated
1995 Just for You Best R&B Album Nominated
1997 "Missing You" (Brandy, Tamia, Gladys Knight & Chaka Kahn) Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Nominated
2001 At Last Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album Won
2004 "Heaven Help Us All" (Gladys Knight & Ray Charles) Best Gospel Performance Won
2005 One Voice (Gladys Knight & Saints Unified Voices) Best Gospel Choir or Chorus Album Won

Grammy Awards

Awards, honors and achievements

In 1996, Gladys Knight & the Pips were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. One year before, Knight had received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2007, Knight received the Society of Singers ELLA Award at which time she was declared the "Empress of Soul". She is listed on Rolling Stone's list of the Greatest Singers of All Time.[25]


Also in 1997, she was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, following her son and daughter.[23] She had occasionally teased LDS Church president, the late Gordon B. Hinckley, that his flock needs to inject some "pep" into their music.[24] Knight married her husband, William McDowell, in 2001. They have sixteen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Knight has been married four times and has three children. In 1960, she married her high school sweetheart, James Newman. They had one son, James "Jimmy" Newman (1962–1999). She retired from the road to raise their child while the Pips toured on their own. In 1963, after having her only daughter, Kenya, Knight returned to recording with the Pips in order to support her family. In the early 1960s, Gladys, James, and the Pips moved to Detroit, Michigan. Knight and her family lived on Sherbourne in Sherwood Forest, an upscale neighborhood on Detroit's West Side. She also resided on LaSalle for a time. Her children attended Gesu Catholic Grade School. James and Knight divorced in 1973. In 1974, Knight married producer and Blackground Records founder Barry Hankerson, who is the uncle of the late R&B singer Aaliyah, in Detroit. Around 1977, they relocated to Atlanta. (The Pips, however, remained in Detroit.) The couple had one son, Shanga Hankerson, and divorced in 1981. Knight married motivational speaker Les Brown[22] in 1995, but they separated and divorced in 1997.

Personal life

Knight's son Shanga owns a chain of chicken and waffles restaurants based in Atlanta, bearing her name.[20] Gladys Knight & Ron Winans' Chicken & Waffles currently have three locations in the Atlanta area. One location was featured on the Travel Channel original series Man v. Food.[21]

Knight and Ron Winans' Chicken & Waffles in Atlanta.

Gladys Knight & Ron Winans' Chicken & Waffles

In 2012, Knight competed on the fourteenth season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars, partnered with Tristan MacManus. They were eliminated on April 24 after losing a "dance duel" to Disney Channel star Roshon Fegan and partner Chelsie Hightower, ironically on the show's "Motown Week."[19]

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. alongside comedian Flip Wilson, which 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. In 2012, she began a recurring role in the syndicated sitcom The First Family.


In 1976, Knight made her acting debut as the lead in the film Pipe Dreams for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress. In 2003, she had a short role in the hit movie Hollywood Homicide, which starred Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett. In 2009, Knight was featured in Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself, the film version of a play he had dramatized, and performed her song "The Need To Be" from the 1974 album I Feel a Song.



At select performances on the UK Farewell Tour recordings of the concerts were made available for sale on USB flash drives.[18]

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 Knight performed "If I Were Your Woman" and "Help Me Make It Through the Night".

In October 2009, Knight started her farewell tour of the United Kingdom[17] which featured Tito Jackson as her supporting act and special appearances by Dionne Warwick.

UK Farewell Tour

Where My Heart Belongs (2014) marked her 30th top 40 R&B album, including work by Gladys Knight & the Pips.[15] In a 2014, interview she expressed a hope that women would "Stand Up" and stop selling sex in the music/entertainment industry. She commented that the growing trend saddened her heart and that she had been taught to dress respectfully for her audiences . . . "not take it off, put it on."[16] Knight is ranked number eighteen on VH1 network's list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock.

In 2013, Knight recorded the Lenny Kravitz written and produced song "You And I Ain't Nothin' No More" for the soundtrack from Lee Daniels' motion picture The Butler. The song was added to the movie's soundtrack of older songs by various artists so that the producers had a song to compete in the Best Song from a Motion Picture category at the Academy Awards.[14]

In September 2011, a new, updated recording of Tom Jones' 1970 classic I (Who Have Nothing) was released on iTunes and Amazon.[13]

In December 2010, Knight released the single "Settle".

In 2009 Knight sang "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" and "The Lord's Prayer" at the funeral service for Michael Jackson.[12]

In 2008 Gladys, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller performed on American Idol to raise money for charity. In March 2010, Randy Jackson mentioned on a new episode of the same show that he is back in the studio with Gladys Knight working on a new album.

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, a duet between Knight and Johnny Mathis was released on Mathis' album A Night to Remember.

In 2005, a duet between Knight and the late Ray Charles of "You Were There" was released on Charles' duets album Genius & Friends.

In April 2004, Knight performed during the VH1's benefit concert Divas Live 2004 alongside Ashanti, Cindy Lauper, Jessica Simpson, Joss Stone and Patti LaBelle, in support of the Save the Music Foundation.[11]

Knight created and now directs the Mormon-themed choir Saints Unified Voices.[10] SUV has released a Grammy Award-winning CD titled One Voice, and occasionally performs at LDS church firesides.

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

Her fourth solo LP, Just for You, went Gold and was nominated for the 1995 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.[9]

Gladys released her third and most successful solo LP, Good Woman, on MCA in 1991. It hit #1 on the R&B album chart and featured the #2 R&B hit "Men". It also reached #45 on the main Billboard album chart – her all time highest showing. The album also featured "Superwoman", written by Babyface and featuring Dionne Warwick and Patti LaBelle. The track was also nominated for a Grammy Award. Knight and LaBelle would collaborate the same year on "I Don't Do Duets", a duet with Patti LaBelle from LaBelle's album Burnin'.

While still with the Pips, Gladys joined with Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John on the 1986 AIDS benefit single, "That's What Friends Are For", a triple #1 mega-hit, which won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. In 1989, she recorded the title track for the James Bond movie Licence to Kill, a Top 10 hit in the UK and Germany.

Solo music career

in 1996. [8]Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and into the [7] (1987), for All Our Love In 1987, Knight decided to pursue a solo career and she and the Pips recorded their final LP together,

In 1983 Gladys Knight and the Pips scored again with the hit "Save The Overtime For Me". The song, under the artistic direction of Leon Sylvers III (known for collaborating on Shalamar hits), was done in a soulful boogie style. The single was released from their LP "Visions" and reached number sixty-six on the Hot 100, but was more successful on the R&B where it hit number one for a single week in mid 1983. The single was the first time the group hit number one on the R&B chart since 1974.

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 albums--About Love (1980) and Touch (1981). During this period, Knight kicked a gambling addiction to the game baccarat.

Gladys Knight & the Pips' version of the song, from their 1967 album Everybody Needs Love.

Problems playing this file? See .

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".

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.

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.

The act eventually left Motown for a better deal with

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

Gladys Knight & the Pips joined the Motown Records roster in 1966, and, although initially regarded as a second-string act, scored several major hit singles, including "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", (recorded first by Marvin Gaye but actually released a year later), "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 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.[6]

Success with the Pips

In 1961, the group recorded "Every Beat Of My Heart" on the tiny Atlanta Huntom label, which was picked up by Vee Jay. At the same time, the group signed with Bobby Robinson's Fury label. Both labels issued different versions of the song, with the Vee Jay/Huntom version outselling the Fury remake. With the success of their follow-up, "Letter Full Of Tears", Fury released their first album. They stayed with Fury through 1962, although the hits dried up. They signed with Larry Maxwell's Maxx label in 1964 and released several modest hits produced by Van McCoy, including the original version of "Giving Up" and "Lovers Always Forgive".

(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. the Pips 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 Original Amateur Hour Ted Mack's She first achieved minor fame by winning [5][4]

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