The Empress of Soul: Gladys Knight’s Love and Life…

Before Mary J Blige, Toni Braxton, Alicia Keys and all the new kids on the block, Atlanta-born Gladys Knight made her mark as one of the most successful Soul singers of our times.


Born Gladys Maria Knight on May 28, 1944, Knight started singing at the Baptist church choir at age 4. Encouraged by her mother, she then joined and won Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour at age 7. After realizing her talent, she decided to cultivate it by teaming up with her brother Bubba and cousins Edward Patten and William guest and formed the R&B/ Soul musical group called The Pips, named after Edward “Pip” Woods who is their cousin and manager. The group had immense success for 3 decades with their hit singles “I Heard it Through The Grapevine”, “Every Beat of My Heart’ and “Midnight Train to Georgia”. The musical quartet then gained three Grammy Awards for Best R&B Vocal, Pop Vocal Performance and R&B Performance By a Duo, Group or Chorus.


Gladys Knight took a break in1960 when she found herself pregnant and married James Newman, a high school sweetheart. Sadly, she experienced miscarriage and later decided to return performing with The Pips. In 1962, Knight gave birth to a son that made her decide to retire from the group for a while. She then had a daughter a year after named Kenya. Due to the responsibility facing her, she decided to reunite with The Pips. They later renamed themselves as Gladys Knight and The Pips and signed with Motown record company. They eventually found themselves touring with big names like Diana Ross and The Supremes as an opening act. The quartet deliberately made a name in the industry by producing hit topping charts, collaborations (with Johnny Mathis and Patti LaBelle) and film movie soundtracks ( James Bond: A License to Kill).


Gladys Knight decided to pursue a solo musical career and had #1 songs like “That’s What Friends Are For” (with Elton John, Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder). She had 9 solo albums which helped her earn various prestigious musical awards. She then explored the industry and ventured into television appearances, music specials and the big screen, Broadway performances, commercials and even wrote her autobiography and a cookbook for diabetics. To date, she has appeared in Benson, The Jeffersons, A Different World, Living Single, The Jamie Foxx Show and New York Undercover.


After experiencing rocky marriages, Knight married William McDowell and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She then formed and lead a LDS gospel choir called Saints Unified Voices. As she has stated, her religion helped her live her life again as it was the best thing that ever happened to her.


Called the “Empress of Soul”, Gladys Knight is undeniably a legacy. Aside form being a singer and actress, she is an author, humanitarian and a philanthropist. She is a supporter of American Diabetes Association. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, has recorded around 30 albums and a seven-time Grammy Award winning artist. Just lately, she ventured into entrepreneurship and now owns the food chain called Gladys Knight & Ron Winans’ Chicken & Waffles. She is now a family person, with responsibilities of being a wife, mother and grandmother.

TJ – Rare Soul Grooves & Soul Music TV

22 thoughts on “The Empress of Soul: Gladys Knight’s Love and Life…

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  3. I love Gladys and the Pips they are so good and they sound so good on record and live on stage. Now that’s real talent like most nowadays that lip sink, I do mean sink, lol.

  4. She’s still a damned fine looking woman, though. Her voice still melts my heart, as it did when I was in my youth.

  5. Of the longevity of Gladys Knight and the Pips, who are approaching half a century in the music business, Knight had this to say: “One reason we’ve been able to stick together is because we pray before each show – pray for the strength to stay humble, courage to keep pushing, and the ability to reach people with our message.”

  6. What makes Gladys is her rusty and haunting voice; it disturbs your inner soul, so powerful, so tremendous.

  7. Gladys Knight & the Pips are ranked as the ninth most successful act in The Billboard Top 40 Book of R&B and Hip-Hop Hits (2005).

  8. Once performed Licence to Kill in concert at Caesars Atlantic City for Jason Allentoff and Brandon Allentoff.

  9. At 64 years old, Gladys has achieved much more than can be imagined. She makes retireable age seem easy and still incredibly hot. She also produces for other artists but I’m glad that she has never turned her back on singing.

  10. As childhood crushes go, I’ve long admired Miss Gladys Knight. In 2008, she was with Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, and Patti Labelle for a concert in aid of cardiac research. It goes to show how much of a darling she is.

  11. She lights up the world with her wonderful talents. She’s all the more terrific because I heard from my friends who went up to Vegas that she’s gracious too and has no airs of being a legend in her own right.

  12. She’s indeed one of the greats. She has a very powerful set of pipes. Her music has meant a lot to me through the years. I listen to her songs regularly and she never fails to evoke a certain pinch of nostalgia.

  13. This woman’s career spans 5 decades. Who else has that lasting power? It seems to me her achievement is unparalleled in the industry. Midnight Train to Georgia is a favorite. She acts on TV and broadway. I mean she still is quite active. Incredible woman!

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