Gladys Knight is a pioneering soul and R&B singer. She was born in Georgia, United States on April 14, 1941 to parents William Coleman and Annie Mae Browning-Coleman. During her childhood she sang gospel music with The Pips as part of the family group The Gospelaires. Gladys went solo after years of singing with them during their songwriting sessions until 1967 where they broke up due to creative differences among members following the success of “Neither One Of Us”. In 1968 she released “I’m Yours”, which became one of the first million selling singles ever recorded by a female artist even though it failed commercially at first..
The “Gladys Knight & the Pips Biography, Songs, & Albums” is a biography of Gladys Knight and the Pips. It includes information on their songs, albums, and more.
Gladys Knight & the Pips, like many early R&B groups, were rooted in the gospel tradition and first topped the Billboard R&B chart with “Every Beat of My Heart” in 1961. Later in the decade, they became one of Motown’s most dependable acts, scoring 11 Top Ten R&B hits from 1966 to 1972, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “The Nitty Gritty,” and “If I Were Your Woman.” With the Buddah label, the group quadrupled its number of Top Ten R&B successes from 1977 to 1978, with “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination,” and “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” accounting for a string of chart-topping singles from the gold-selling album Imagination. Knight & the Pips stayed together into the 1980s, releasing the R&B Top Ten hits “Landlord,” “Save the Overtime (For Me),” and the Grammy-winning “Love Overboard,” as well as being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the following decade. Knight started a full-time solo career in the early 1990s after releasing her first two Pips-less albums in the late 1970s. The Grammy-winning 2001 album At Last, as well as award-winning collaborations with Saints Unified Voices and Ray Charles, highlight the singer’s solo career, which comprises an array of adult contemporary R&B, gospel, and jazz records. The 2014 Top Ten gospel album Where My Heart Belongs is one of Knight’s latter albums. She is still working as a performer.
Gladys Knight’s first singing trio was established in 1952 in Atlanta, Georgia, by her brother Merald “Bubba,” sister Brenda, and cousins Eleanor Guest and William Guest. The kids, who dubbed themselves the Pips after their relative James “Pips” Woods, performed supper-club stuff Monday through Saturday and religious music on Sundays. In 1958, they signed with Brunswick Records and released the song “Whistle My Love.” When Brenda and Eleanor departed to be married the next year, another cousin of the Knights, Edward Patten, and Langston George, were welcomed into the group. The Pips’ next recordings were three years later, when they recorded a cover of Johnny Otis’ “Every Beat of My Heart” for the Huntom label. When it started to get national notice, Knight’s bluesy, appealing singing style was licensed to Vee Jay Records, and the song went on to top the R&B chart and enter the mainstream Top Ten. Gladys Knight & the Pips had secured a long-term recording deal with Fury Records at this time, and they released a re-recording of “Every Beat of My Heart” that competed with the original release for sales. The group’s R&B credentials were solidified with songs like “Letter Full of Tears” and “Operator.” With “Giving Up” and “Lovers Always Forgive,” they had modest successes after switching to the Maxx label in 1964, where they collaborated with producer Van McCoy. Langston George left the band in 1962, leaving a four-piece configuration that lasted until the 1980s.
Gladys Knight & the Pips joined with Motown Records’ Soul division in 1966, where they collaborated with producer/songwriter Norman Whitfield. Knight’s harsh vocals set them apart from the rest of Motown’s pop-soul lineup. With “Everybody Needs Love,” “The End of the Road,” “It Should Have Been Me,” and “I Wish It Would Rain,” they had major R&B and minor pop hits in the United States between 1967 and 1968, but their biggest hit was the original release of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” an uncompromisingly muscular performance of a song that became a Motown standard in the hands of its author, Marvin Gaye, in 1969. At the end of 1967, Gladys Knight & the Pips’ rendition topped the R&B chart for six weeks and also reached number two on the pop chart.
With “Didn’t You Know (You’d Have to Cry Sometime),” “The Nitty Gritty,” “Friendship Train,” and “You Need Love Like I Do (Don’t You),” the group had more R&B and pop hits at the end of the decade, while the poignant “If I Were Your Woman” was one of the label’s best-selling releases of 1970 and gave the group their third R&B chart-topper. Knight & the Pips gradually evolved away from their initial blues-influenced sound and toward a more middle-of-the-road harmony mix in the early 1970s. The smash hit “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” (number one R&B, number two pop, and a Grammy winner for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals) launched their new approach in 1973, and other hits during this period included “I Don’t Want to Do Wrong,” “I Don’t Want to Do Wrong,” and “I Don’t Want to Do Wrong.” “Make Me the Woman You Go Home To,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” and “Daddy Could Swear, I Declare” are just a few of the songs on the album.
Gladys Knight & the Pips left Motown for Buddah Records in late 1973, dissatisfied with the former label’s decision to relocate its operations from Detroit to Los Angeles. With “Where Peaceful Waters Flow” and “Midnight Train to Georgia,” an appealing soul song that topped the R&B and mainstream charts, the trio achieved instant success at Buddah (and won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals). R&B chart-toppers and pop Top Five singles like “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” and “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” mined a similar vein. The trio performed Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack music for the film Claudine in 1974, which spawned the big hit “On and On,” and the title track of I Feel a Song earned them another R&B number one the following year. The medley “The Way We Were/Try to Remember,” published in 1975, exemplified their smoother style. Knight and the group also had their own U.S. television series that year.
Gladys Knight made her acting debut in the 1976 film Pipe Dreams, for which the band recorded a soundtrack. Knight & the Pips were forced to record individually until they could sign a new recording deal with CBS Records due to legal issues that plagued their career till the end of the decade. Knight’s solo songs “I’m Coming Home Again” and “Am I Too Late” were modest R&B successes towards the close of the decade, and she recorded her first two solo albums, Miss Gladys Knight and Gladys Knight, during this time. In 1980, the reconstituted group collaborated with the Ashford & Simpson writing/production duo on About Love, which resulted in harsh R&B social criticism in “Landlord” and “Bourgie Bourgie.” Following that, the group’s R&B and MOR styles alternated, resulting in successes like the R&B chart-topper “Save the Overtime (For Me)” and “You’re Number One in My Book” (both 1983). Knight collaborated with Elton John, Dionne Warwick, and Stevie Wonder on the chart-topping and Grammy-winning pop song “That’s What Friends Are For” in 1985. After signing with MCA Records in 1986, “Love Overboard” proved that Gladys Knight & the Pips could excel in both R&B and pop, propelling the group back to the top of the R&B chart and into the pop Top 20 by the end of 1987. In early 1989, the trio won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance for the latter song, which was followed by two more R&B successes, “Lovin’ on Next to Nothing” and “It’s Gonna Take All Our Love.”
Gladys Knight and the Pips split up after a tour in 1989. Merald stayed with his sister when the James Bond movie song “Licence to Kill” became a Top Ten success in the United Kingdom that year (her best U.K. chart position since Gladys Knight & the Pips’ 1977 Top Five single “Baby Don’t Change Your Mind”). Good Woman and Just for You, Knight’s third and fourth albums, were released in 1991 and 1994, respectively. The former reached number one on the R&B chart, while the latter reached number six and was certified gold. “Missing You,” a duet with Chaka Khan, Brandy, and Tamia recorded for the soundtrack of Set It Off, was her final Top Ten R&B hit in 1996. She and the Pips were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame the following year. The next year, Eleanor Guest died of heart failure. Knight’s sixth solo album, At Last, won the Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album in 2001, making her a solo Grammy winner. With the Ray Charles duet “Heaven Help Us All,” she received a Grammy for Best Gospel Performance in 2004. The next year, One Voice, a collaboration with Saints Unified Voices, won the award for Best Gospel Choir or Chorus Album. Edward Patten died of diabetes complications later that year.
Knight’s following albums have alternated between modern gospel and adult contemporary R&B, with a brief foray into jazz standards in 2006 with Before Me, a collection of jazz standards recorded for the Verve label. Langston George died of heart failure the next year. Knight resumed performing, including a farewell tour in the United Kingdom in 2009. During the first part of the decade, she published Another Journey and the Top Ten gospel album Where My Heart Belongs. In 2015, William Guest died of heart failure. Knight has continued to play, including a lengthy tour in the United Kingdom.
The “gladys knight and the pips biography” is an article about Gladys Knight & The Pips, a group of singers from the 1970s. It includes information on their songs, albums, and career.
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