Hip-hop generation: Gladys Knight deserves your love now

Munson Steed and Gladys Knight

There is no question that Gladys Knight is the “Empress of Soul.” She exemplifies how entertainers should conduct themselves. It’s Black Music Month and we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate her.

While hanging out with the good folks at Walmart I was blessed to plant a kiss on Gladys Knight’s forehead. She is an entrepreneur who understands products and services but at the same time has a gift of singing. I can snap my fingers to the tune “Midnight Train to Georgia” or simply leave my home in southwest Atlanta and travel down Cascade Road to Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles or the popular restaurant’s sister location in downtown Atlanta.

It’s one of those things that leave you wondering and amazed. Here’s a woman who’s played Vegas. Here’s a woman who has an entrepreneurial mind-set that she’s passed to her son, Shanga Hankerson. Here’s a woman who is a seven-time Grammy Award winner singer, an actress, humanitarian, author, model, songwriter and, most importantly, an inspiration.

In addition to numerous accomplishments, Knight demonstrates what it means to be a woman of integrity. A woman with a legion of fans. A woman who teaches us to appreciate life in an imperfect world. She continues to move forward and triumph even after a divorce and the death of her son, James Newman. Here is a woman who has raised a successful son, and who is a successful businesswoman.

I thought about her as I thought about Maya Angelou. I thought about how many people put on their Facebook walls how much they loved Maya Angelou. I wondered if they put that much love into saying to Gladys in advance “We love you too.” “We love your beautiful songs.” “We love you for your staying power.” “We love you for being a businesswoman.” “We love you for the fact that you are iconic.” “We love you for making music that lasts decades.”

She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. She’s able to sing and bring crowds to their feet.

Oftentimes, entertainers only reflect the tragedies that many of us are facing whether it’s alcohol or drug addiction, the end of a relationship, physical health, but here is an example of a woman who continues to move forward. Even though one marriage was not successful she continued on with her career.

We need to look at heros and sheroes in our community that make a difference and give us an example of how to live longer, healthier lives. Hip-hop music has made a great and grand impression, and yet for R&B stars there are so many that we miss. We miss Whitney Houston and all of those gone too soon.

It’s always nice to give someone flowers before they are gone. I got the opportunity to give her a big kiss and she thanked me. She was very kind, very generous, and didn’t make me feel insignificant. I thought she looked elegant, sophisticated, poised and dignified, all the things that seem to be under attack by women who want to be stars.

Here is a star who has lit up the world and hasn’t dimmed. Let Gladys Knight be an example of how bright you can be, young women and young men. For all of us need a Gladys and a woman who is a knight in shining armor who can glow for all of the princesses and queens. We love you our black, Hispanic and white queens. For all of us who love Gladys Knight, let her know she is loved — now, while she is living and can appreciate the sentiment.


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