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Gladys Knight

About this Artist

The great ones endure, and Gladys Knight has long been one of the greatest. Very few singers over the last 50 years have matched her unassailable artistry. This seven-time Grammy winner has enjoyed No. 1 hits in pop, gospel, R&B, and adult contemporary and has triumphed in film, television, and live performance.  

Georgia-born Knight began performing gospel music at age 4 at Mount Mariah Baptist Church and sang as a guest soloist with the Morris Brown College Choir. Three years later, she won the grand prize on television’s Ted Mack and the Original Amateur Hour, and the following year, her mother, Elizabeth Knight, created the group consisting of Gladys, her brother Bubba, her sister Brenda, and her cousins William and Elenor Guest. They called themselves The Pips in honor of their cousin/manager, James Pip Woods. In 1959, Brenda and Elenor left the group, replaced by cousin Edward Patten and friend Langston George. The group was renamed Gladys Knight & The Pips, and following George’s departure in 1962, the classic lineup was in place.  

The group debuted its first album in 1960, when Knight was just 16. With Knight singing lead and The Pips providing lush harmonies and graceful choreography, the group went on to achieve icon status, having recorded some of the most memorable songs of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Top 20 hits, like “Every Beat of My Heart,” “Letter Full of Tears,” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” and “If I Were Your Woman,” set the stage for an amazing run in the mid-1970s, with Top 10 gold-certified singles like “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye),” “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination,” “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,” and the No. 1 smash “Midnight Train to Georgia” establishing Gladys Knight and The Pips as the premier pop/R&B vocal ensemble in the world. The party kept rolling with hits like the Golden Globe-nominated “On and On” from Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack for Claudine, the 1974 comedy about love in the inner city. Knight enjoyed another No. 1 hit in 1985 when she teamed with Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Dionne Warwick on “That’s What Friends Are For.” All told, Knight has recorded more than 38 albums over the years. 

Her involvement in other creative undertakings, business ventures, and humanitarian activities has been extensive and has brought her honors from industry and community alike. In 1995, Knight earned her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the next year, Gladys Knight & The Pips were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Knight published an autobiography, Between Each Line of Pain and Glory (a line taken from her million-selling recording “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”), in 1997, and the next year, she and The Pips were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. In 2004, Knight received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards ceremony.  

A humanitarian and philanthropist, Knight has been devoted to various worthy causes, including the American Diabetes Association–for which she is a national spokesperson; the American Cancer Society; the Minority AIDS Project; amfAR; Crisis Intervention; and the Boys & Girls Clubs. She has been honored by numerous organizations as well, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and B’nai Brith.   

Today, Knight and husband William, along with various other members of the family, oversee her busy career from the Las Vegas headquarters of Shakeji, Inc., her personal entertainment corporation. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, performer, restaurateur, and businesswoman with a spiritual outlook on her life. Her faith in God has been the driving force behind all of Knight’s endeavors, guiding her through her many successes.