DWTS 14: Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight is a Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, actress and author. She’s also known as the “Empress of Soul” and came to prominence as the lead singer for Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Full name: Gladys Maria Knight

Partner: Tristan MacManus

Official website

Birthday: 28 May 1944

  • Age: 67
  • Gemini

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

The Pips originally included her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight, and her cousins Edward Patten and William Guest. She was originally a member of The Pips which included Merald, her sister Brenda and her cousins William and Eleanor Guest. The group took its name from a cousin, James “Pip” Woods. Eventually, Edward Patten and Langston George replaced Brenda Knight and Eleanor Guest.

Gladys Knight and the Pips became part of the Motown roster in 1966 and toured as the opening act for Diana Ross.  Their hits included:

  • “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
  • “Friendship Train” (1969)
  • “If I Were Your Woman” (1970)
  • “I Don’t Want to Do Wrong” (1972)
  • “Daddy Could Swear (I Declare)” (1973)
  • Neither One of Us (Wants To Be the First to Say Goodbye)” Grammy
  • “Midnight Train to Georgia”  (1973) with Buddah Records–Grammy
  • “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”
  • “Love Overboard” (1987) Last LP before Knight went solo.
  • That’s What Friends Are For” with Dionne Warwick, Elton John–Grammy
The Pips roster was as follows:
As a solo act, Knight received the following Grammy Awards:
  • 2001 Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album – “At Last”
  • 2004 Best Gospel Performance – “Heaven Help Us All” – Ray Charles & Gladys Knight.
  • 2005 Best Gospel Choir Or Chorus Album – One Voice – Gladys Knight & The Saints Unified Voices.

Of course, what might be the most infamous Gladys Knight & the Pips performance included Jack Black, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr.

Besides singing, Knight has appeared as a guest star on several TV programs: Benson, The Jeffersons, A Different World, Living Single, The Jamie Foxx ShowNew York UndercoverLas Vegas, and 30 RockShe starred in a sitcom opposite comedian Flip Wilson in 1985, but the CBS show, “Charlie & Co.” lasted one season.  The 18-episode show is notable because Knight played Wilson’s wife as well as the mother of three kids. Jaleel White played the youngest child, the 9-year-old Robert. Kristoff St. John, who played the oldest child, currently appears as the character Neil Winters on the CBS soap opera “The Young and the Restless.”

Knight has been married four times and has three children (Jimmy Newman III, Kenya Newman with her first husband, Jimmy Newman, who was a high school sweetheart; Shanga Hankerson with husband Barry Hankerson, producer and founder of Blackground Records). Her current husband is William McDowell whom she married in 2001. Son Shanga owns a chain called Gladys Knight & Ron Winans’ Chicken & Waffles that has three Atlanta, Georgia locations.

Gladys Knight & Tristan McManus


  • 800-868-3411
  • 800-VOTE4-11
  • Text-in Code: 3411

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About Jana J. Monji

I've written for the Rafu Shimpo, LA Weekly, LA Times, Examiner.com and, more recently, the Pasadena Weekly and RogerEbert.com. I formerly worked for a dot-com more interested in yodeling than its customers.

Posted on March 20, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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