Gladys Maria Knight is a US soul singer and actress who has been on stage since the 1950s and was one of the leading singers of her genre for several decades, winning several Grammy awards. With her backing band, she had many big hits as Gladys Knight & the Pips from 1961 until they broke up in 1989. The music magazine Rolling Stone honored Knight's voice at number 51 of the greatest singers of all time. In her solo career, which began in 1978, she has released several albums in the R&B, gospel and jazz genres, in addition to soul recordings.
At the age of four Knight was already singing in the church choir, and at the age of eight she formed her band The Pips, which was renamed Gladys Knight & the Pips for a few years after the singer, who was as powerful of voice as she was charismatic, emerged as the center of the ensemble. The group had its first hits starting in 1961, and in the second half of the 1960s Gladys Knight & the Pips were signed to Motown for several years. In all, the band scored a good 40 hits on the U.S. charts by the end of the 1980s; among them was the number one hit and classic of soul, Midnight Train to Georgia (1973). Gladys Knight & the Pips officially disbanded in 1989.
Knight made her solo debut right away with a super hit, but it was also her last: Licence to Kill, the theme song to the 1989 James Bond film License to Kill, reached number three in Germany and number six in the UK, but was not a big hit in the US. It was the first and only time that Knight was able to place with a single in Germany.
Knight had the biggest audience of her career when she sang the song Georgia on My Mind at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
In 1996 Gladys Knight and her band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.