Photo courtesy of Erick Urglies

“The Empress of Soul” performs at Colden Auditorium

3 mins read

Gladys Knight performed in front of a packed audience on Nov. 7 in Colden Auditorium.

A seven-time Grammy winner with over 40 years in the music industry, Knight played her hits ranging from genres including pop, gospel and adult contemporary.

Born in Atlanta, Knight began performing gospel music at age four in the Mount Mariah Baptist Church and sang as a guest soloist with the Morris Brown College Choir. Years later, she won the grand prize on “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour,” a television show.

The crowd of diverse concertgoers waited patiently to see the legendary “Empress of Soul.” She opened the show with a powerful performance of “Love Overboard,” a 1987 hit single from the Gladys Knight and the Pips catalog.

The group was created by her mother Elizabeth and consisted of Knight, her brother Bubba, her sister Brenda and her cousins William and Eleanor Guest. Knight is best known for the many hits she recorded during the 1960s and 1970s with them.

Gladys Knight and the Pips first recorded for the Brunswick label in 1958 and dented the charts with “Every Beat of My Heart” and “Letter Full of Tears,” both released in 1961 on Fury Records. After a few more singles, the group signed with Motown’s Soul label in 1966.

The group moved to Buddah Records in 1973, where they had their biggest hit, “Midnight Train to Georgia.” They then signed with CBS Records until their break up in 1989. In 1996, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Knight brought the crowd to their feet with some of her classics including the popular “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “Neither One of Us,” the latter being the last song the group recorded on Motown Records. She covered songs from her fellow Motown Records counterparts including the romantic “Oohh Baby Baby” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles as well as “Just My Imagination” by The Temptations.

Knight never missed a beat with her energetic renditions of songs from various musical eras. She covered songs by soul and R&B artists such as Teddy Pendergrass, The Spinners and Boyz II Men.

Knight has recorded more than 38 albums over the years including four solo albums. She also guest-starred on several television series throughout the 1980s and 1990s, with roles on “The Jefferson’s”, “A Different World”,

“Living Single” and “The Jamie Foxx Show”. Most recently in 2012, Knight competed on the 14th season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”, where she partnered with dancer Tristan MacManus.

Knight closed the show by going back to her gospel roots with a powerful rendition of “Let the Church Say Amen.”
The Kupferberg Center will continue their concert series with the Vienna Boys Choir on Dec. 7.

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