Internationally known soul singer Gladys Knight is enjoying a year of celebrations. This year marks her 50th in show business - and she continues producing songs and performing concerts.
Only now, her music expresses her faith as a Latter-day Saint.On Aug. 11, Sister Knight, former lead singer for the performing group Gladys Knight and The Pips, commemorated her baptismal anniversary by receiving her endowments in the Las Vegas Nevada Temple. She was baptized a year before to the day, Aug. 11, 1997, in Las Vegas. She is a member of the Legacy Ward, Las Vegas Nevada Green Valley Stake.
Many of her new songs, which she is performing during a current road tour, indicate her new-found faith in Jesus Christ and her gratitude for the restored gospel in her life.
"I certainly at this moment know what the scripture means to `seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you,' " she said during a telephone interview. "I am so grateful He has allowed me to become one of His chosen people, to be a part of this Church and to have the gospel in all its fullness."
Sister Knight's path toward Church membership started many years ago, when she was just a child growing up in Georgia. Her spiritual and professional foundations were established in her Protestant faith by her mother, Elizabeth, who encouraged her talented daughter to sing as a soloist with the local church choir and the Morris Brown College Choir in Atlanta when she was barely 4 years old.
At 8 years old, she won the "Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour" contest, and, soon after, formed The Pips with her cousins. By 12 years old, she was leading the Pips in opening acts in venues throughout the country. As her career progressed, she became known for such top hits as "I Heard It through the Grapevine," "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)," and "Midnight Train to Georgia."
At 44, she became a solo artist, expanding to television roles as well as singing. Over the years, she has been recognized with such awards as multiple Grammy awards, platinum and gold records, a Clio, a Cable Ace award for producing, American Music Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and places in the Rock `n' Roll Hall of Fame and the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.
Despite her stellar career, Sister Knight found herself seeking a different kind of fulfillment. She investigated one church after another for some 20 years in attempts to find "the one true church." She said she was aware of the LDS Church because her daughter, Kenya, and her son, Jimmy, had joined the Church some eight years before, but she was caught up in studying the doctrines of the many other churches. As a result, she never took time to investigate the Church in any depth.
Until one day, however, when she was expressing her spiritual frustration. Kenya persuaded her mother to take the missionary lessons. The missionaries challenged her to use personal prayer to find some of her own answers. She related she trusted that Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit would manifest the truth about the Church to her. It wasn't long before her answer came, letting her know the Church is true, and she was ecstatic.
"It was just the happiest time," she recalled. "I had been going to people in every church, saying, `So He was born, and so He lived, and He was laid in a tomb and resurrected, and then what?' I didn't know what until I came into the Church. I know now what came next and what He did. I'm happier now than I have ever been in my entire life."
Sister Knight places a great deal of importance on giving back and hopes for any opportunity to share her testimony with others.
"We all have a responsibility, and since I've been so wonderfully blessed, I really want to share and to make life at least a little better," she added. "So every chance I get to share the gospel or uplift people, I will take full advantage of that opportunity."