Gladys Knight, aka “The Empress of Soul,” has a new song, and it definitely has the makings of a hit. Rolling Out had the pleasure of attending an intimate listening party in Chicago last week where her new single, “Just a Little” was debuted. The self-proclaimed balladeer shared that “I have wanted to do a dance song for quite some time, because I do like to boogie every now and again.” The upbeat song written by her musical protegé Avehre had every person in the room moving.
Knight has been in the music industry for more than 50 years. Her first record with The Pips was recorded in 1961. Between group and solo efforts, she has released 38 albums. She attributes her longevity in the industry to being open to change. Knight told the group, “you can’t keep doing things like you did a long time ago. You have to keep up with change and be willing to do a whole lot of things in order to stay relevant.”
Knight took a moment to discuss what has motivated her throughout her career. “From day one when we were born, my mother told me that there is a Father in heaven and he has a journey for you to take. He will give you gifts and if you use those gifts accordingly in a way that’s pleasing to him, you will be successful. And that is what we always went by and I still go by that. Today it’s for the love of music and for the love of the people. I’m still in awe when I walk out on stage and I see a room full of people. We are sold out. People still want to hear from us and see us. I’m encouraged by that.”
Knight loves staying connected to fans of all ages. She is currently a VH1 Save the Music Ambassador. Her trip to Chicago included a visit to a charter school where she imparted words of wisdom to the students She is passionate about this role because it gives her the opportunity to mentor and work with the youth. “We cannot forget our young people. They are stripping everything from them that can help them to grow up and be well rounded,” she said. Knight and her husband William McDowell bought a school in his hometown of Canton, North Carolina. They have plans to transform it into a place where students will thrive.
The single “Just a Little” will be released in all digital stores on Sept. 25. Her full album will be released next year. Check out a snippet from the Chicago listening party.
Gladys Knight will perform at Ravinia in Chicago on Friday, Sept. 11. Check out her website – gladysknight.com.
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