Tag Archives: Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight, a Dose of Fresh Inspiration — and Romance

Gladys Knight photoGladys Knight admits she would never have thought of tackling a romantic role in the just-wrapped “Seasons of Love” if Taraji P. Henson, executive producer and star of the Lifetime movie that just finished shooting, hadn’t brought her into it.

“This part is one of the main characters of the film,” the seven-time Grammy-winning singer lets us know. Speaking of Henson, with whom she worked previously in Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” Gladys goes on, “I don’t know what she saw in me that she would think I could even do a part like this, but they called me and, oh! I prayed so hard about it, because I wanted to do well. It’s a love story even though it’s coming out at Christmas time. I just really didn’t know if I could pull it off. I’ve never been in a situation where I had to be like this with a partner.”

So how was it to be affectionate on camera? “I felt like I was cheating on my husband!” admits Gladys, and lets out a great big laugh.

And her husband? “My husband is pretty protective when it comes to me,” she replies. “We share everything. I asked him, ‘How do you feel about this?’ and he was okay, you know, but at that time I didn’t know I was going to have to kiss the guy!” She laughs again.

Gladys’ mate since 2001, William McDowell, wasn’t on the set as she was going through her romantic paces. In fact, he wasn’t even in the same state. “We bought a school,” she explains, “and he’s working so, so very hard to get the school renovated so we can get going in making a difference in young people’s lives — young adults’ lives. He’s down in North Carolina working on that.”

Right now, Gladys is in the midst of a media blitz on behalf of her new “Where My Heart Belongs” inspiration/gospel album.

She wrote some of the material on the album as far back as the 1970s, when she was performing with her brother Merald, William Guest and the late Edward Patten, a.k.a. The Pips.

“I was looking for certain stories, certain information I could put on this album, just as a reminder to people about the spirit that we should have and that God is still amazing and we need him in our lives,” she explains. “I wanted to give people just a peek into the most important part of my life and how I feel about that.”

She says she was prompted to start the album as a response to the troubled shape of the world: “I think sometimes a little message is like a candle in the dark.

“At first I thought it was going to be a Christmas holiday album, where we would talk about the spirit of the Lord and loving each other and that kind of thing. And then the closer I got to it, I felt like his love for us and our love for him should be for all seasons. I started putting songs in there that people usually just listen to around certain holidays, like ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus,’ like ‘Were You There When They Crucified My Lord’ — songs that we should be thinking about any time of year.”

Gladys has been out touring this summer, including some dates with Kool and the Gang, and has more performances ahead. The devout Mormon (since 1997) is also still managing to find time to do Latter-day Saints firesides in-between. Then, too, there are her 16 grandchildren and eight great-grands. Gladys tells us that she does indeed get time with them, that “If we’re away from North Carolina too long, they come to see me.”

That the beloved Empress of Soul and her husband are embarking on brand new major enterprises at this time of life is no small inspiration in itself.

How does she do it? Answers Gladys, “I just take it all in stride and be grateful for the blessings that I have, and if I stay focused on the blessings, I ain’t got time for nothing else.”

Gladys Knight ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and New Record, Too

Gladys Knight is not only in the TV spotlight as a “Dancing With the Stars” contestant — she’s also planning for the launch of her first album in six years, “Another Journey,” next month.  Among the helping hands producing the recording is “American Idol’s” Randy Jackson, who won a Grammy for co-producing her “At Last” album in 2001.

“Yeah, I’m still working with big Dawg Randy,” says the legendary Empress of Soul with a laugh.  “That’s my buddy.  I’m finally coming out with that album.  People kept asking me for it.  I really thought I was through with recording, to tell you the truth.”

She says she’s been amazed to hear Gladys Knight and the Pips songs being sung by contestants on “Idol.”  “It does my heart good to know I did something that’s lasted all these years, and that they feel the music we did is worthy enough to choose to perform at such an important moment in their lives.  That’s how I feel about it: ‘This is your time to shine, and you chose my song.'”

Now is her time to shine as a dancer.  Asked for a progress report on her training, she says, “I’m doing pretty good.  I’m kind of shocking myself, because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do this.  I think a lot of it is due to my partner, Tristan (McManus), and how he teaches and how patient he is.”

Is Gladys a natural dancer?  “Noooo.”  She laughs. “You would think so, honey, with all them Pips dancing around me all the time, but they never let me dance, you know?  I used to want to learn the routines of the Pips and in the beginning I did.  Then Pops said, ‘Ok, look.  This is how it is, Baby.  You’re a lady.  So you’ll strut and the Pips will dance.’  And that’s how they set it up.”

The 67-year-old grandmother of 17 has been keeping up her concert tour schedule, training with McManus while on the road.  She is in the midst of a two-week break as we speak, expecting to get back out for gigs in Canada and Mississippi after tonight’s and tomorrow night’s shows.  “Is that crazy or what?  But when I perform, our engagements are set months in advance and there were things I just couldn’t cancel,” she explains.

Where does all her energy come from?  “Well, I try to eat right, and, you know, exercise is always good for you.  I had fallen off the wagon, so to speak, in terms of exercise, but dancing gives me my cardio.  It’s working out pretty good.”

Gladys Knight Thinks ‘See You Later’ Rather Than Farewell for Tour

Gladys Knight © Verve Photo credit: Kwaku Alston

Gladys Knight © Verve Photo credit: Kwaku Alston

Gladys Knight is backtracking a bit from the Farewell in her Midnight Train to Love — Farewell Tour.  “I should have re-titled that.  Instead of ‘farewell,’ I should have been saying ‘see you later,’” says the gracious Motown legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.  “I’m not saying I’m never going to see you again.  But you know, you can’t take time for granted.  I don’t get back to Europe for seven, eight years – so we don’t know if there’ll be another time when I’ll get there, and I want to say my goodbyes now and let everyone know how much I appreciate them.”

 Knight has a two-night stand at California’s Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (Sept. 25, 26), then heads to the U.K..  Tito Jackson’s opening for her, and plans to include a Michael Jackson tribute in his performance.  Other Jacksons will be turning up as well, she says.  And as far as the Jackson connection continuing when she returns to the States, “There’s a very good possibility.  It’s going to be fun, really big time.”

 That’s exactly how Gladys feels about her experience acting in Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” which opens today (9/11).  She’s delighted to have played a character – a churchgoing woman who wants to turn Taraji. P. Henson’s hard-drinking nightclub chanteuse character around.  She tells us Perry helped her forget her nervousness over lines by having her improv.  Will she be doing more acting as a result of this movie?  “I sure hope so.  I would love to.”  Movies, TV, a series?  “I’d be open to any ideas,” she says.  “I wouldn’t mind a recurring part on a TV show.  I love playing a character, someone who isn’t me.  I’ve done so many cameos as myself, it’s been-there-done-that.”

Adam Rodriguez CBS photo

Adam Rodriguez CBS photo

MEANWHILE:  Adam Rodriguez starts shooting a seven-episode arc on “Ugly Betty” today (9/11), glad to be back in his home town of New York City.  He has a big week behind him, including the “I Can Do Bad” premiere and promotion work.  The “CSI: Miami” actor is on his way out of that show, in case you haven’t heard, with a commitment to finish out his Eric Delko character in 10 more episodes of the crime drama.  He says he found himself at a crossroads, and that he and the network made a mutual decision about his future. 

 “I’m going to miss ‘CSI,’ it’s been a great eight seasons and everybody there is like a family member.  Still, it felt like my time to move forward.  This was a great way to start out – this movie,” he says.  “I’m really, really happy about the way it turned out.”

 The actor plays a Colombian immigrant who starts working for Henson’s character, and then romantic sparks ignite.  “It’s a simple family movie,” Adam attests, “the message is clear and at the end you walk out feeling good, feeling inspired maybe, to make changes in your own life.”

GOING FOR THE GOLDEN LADY:  “Wizards of Waverly Place” creator Todd J. Greenwald is hoping that he and the rest of the show’s creative team and cast head into their big D-23 Expo Appearance Sunday (9/13) “coming off a high at the Emmys the day before as opposed to a low.” 

 The Disney Channel show starring Selena Gomez, David Henrie and Jake T. Austin is up for Outstanding Children’s Program honors, being presented at tomorrow’s (9/12) Creative Arts Emmy Awards.  “Up until this year, they tied together the fictional and non-fictional shows in this category, and Linda Ellerbee and Maria Shriver won, and deservedly so,” Greenwald notes.  “This year is the first time they’ve had a category for purely fictional shows.” 

 Win or lose, on Sunday, the “Wizards’ group expects to be communing with a crowd of some 5,000 fans at the Anaheim Convention Center, in a setting that emulates the living room seen on the show. 

 “We’re going to have some special guests from the show as well,” he notes.  And the band Honor Society is performing.