The Kennedy Center

Gladys Knight



Biography

The great ones endure, and Gladys Knight has long been one of the greatest. Very few singers over the last fifty years have matched her unassailable artistry. This seven-time Grammy winner has enjoyed #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 four in the Mount Moriah 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’s 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 Eleanor Guest. They called themselves “The Pips” in honor of their cousin and manager, James “Pip” Woods. In 1959, Brenda and Eleanor 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 line-up was in place. The group debuted their first album in 1960, when Knight was just sixteen. 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,” “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 to Ever Happen to Me” and the #1 smash “Midnight Train to Georgia” established Gladys Knight and The Pips as the premiere pop/R&B vocal ensemble in the world. All told, Knight has recorded more than 38 albums over the years, including four solo albums during the past decade. A humanitarian and philanthropist, Knight has devoted to various worthy causes, including the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society, the Minority AIDS Project, amFAR and Crisis Intervention, and The Boys and Girls Club. She has been honored by numerous organizations as well, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), B’Nai Brith, and is a recent recipient of BET’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 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.

Watch Past Performances

Video 1/16/2017: Let Freedom Ring! a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., with Gladys Knight

The Kennedy Center and Georgetown University celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a free, ticketed musical tribute titled Let Freedom Ring! featuring Gladys Knight and the Let Freedom Ring Choir led by music director Rev. Nolan Williams Jr. Georgetown University will present the 15th Annual John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award to Abel Enrique Núñez, executive director of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). The annual award is given by Georgetown University to an international or local individual who exemplifies the spirit of Dr. King.

Free reserved seat tickets will be distributed up to two per person on a first-come, first-served basis at the entrance to the Hall of Nations, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Gladys Knight