We all aware that Aretha Franklin, is the Queen of Soul and that Dionne Warwick, is the Princess of Pop. Two talented females that has a track record worthy of their title to compliment their vocal contribution to music. Well, one songtress worth of being connected to those greatness of singers, is Gladys Knight , a member of the Pips. Some as tiitled her the Empress of Soul, which she rightly deserve beingcalled, in the music community.
All these ladies achieved, a measure of success before they were in their mid twenties. The sixties bought them their grstest fame, as they blazed the charts, with hits. In giving, the Empress Knight her dues, we musr remember that she started out early hitting the musical chart. One man that was a vital part ,of her success would come back in the seventies, in her career. No, it wasn’t Norman Whitfield but Clay McMurray, the producer of “Every Beat Of My Heart” on a song compose by the legendary Johnny Otis.
If Whitfield’s could make a bass player sounds great on his compositions. Then McMurray could achieve it too around Gladys Knight vocals. But, it was the mastertry of Norman Whtfield production that bought the group, the Pips featuring their female cousin on lead their sixties success. Using Gladys Knight powerful vocals upon his aggressive songs had people paying attention to this Southern born artist. That Georgia water holds records for the people that ruled the charts, in music.
To some Gladys Knight and he Pips “I Heard To The Grapevine” towers over Marvin Gaye’s version simply because, of the soulfulness of her voice. The Funk Brothers could matched all the Motown’s soul singers note for note. But especially working in the sixties, with the money maker for Motown.
If DavidRuffin, made “I Wish It Would Rain” hammer home an emotional hurt. Then, you should listen to the Empress take the same song and again , with that direct tone blame it home too, from a female perspectives. She took songs recorded, by other label mates like “Everybody Needs Love” and enhance it oover the other artist. Of course it didn’t hurt to have Norman Whitfield constantly trying to improve upon his compositions or co-compositions like he seems to have done all throughthe sixties and the seventies.
We have always designated the Temptations, as the best dance unit in the msic business. But, guess what? There was a competitor and they contained only three members instead of the noted five mention above. Amd, yes they was the Pips cousin of the Empress, least two was because Merald “Cool Breeze” Knigh was her brother supporting her along with William Guest and Edward Patton, as they rode the success of the Motown Express Train, with television appearances.
Move for move, these three men could match the Mighty Temptations. Sometimes, people fails to give the Empress Gladys Knight, all the credit she is worthy of, within the music trade she has made her life and living.
To this day here have only been two great recording of “Friendship Train” an original lyrical masterpiece, from Whitfield and Barrett Strong and, the best recording was recorded by The Empress of Soul and her Three Prince. After working with her most successful producer Clay McMurray on several recording in the seventies early years. Take, a listen to “If I Was A Woman” written by Gloria Jones, Pam Sawyers, and the producer who connections goes way back to the early sixties, of the group. With her souful tone and reading the Empress have you spellbound in believing the lyrics of the tune. Let’s remember if Diana Ross would have recorded the song the same feelings would have been missing completely in the message.
Even, on a hit song like “I Don’t Want To Do wrong” we hear hurt and deep expresive love within the song co written by Knight, Guest, Merald Knight along with Catherine Schaffener, with great production, from a Motown’s legend Johnny Bristol. Also, one of the song visionary. Some, of their best seventies Motown’s recording was produced by McMurray and Bristol, but wasn’t always released, by the power brokers.
But, one of their best classic “Neither One Of us” written by Jim Weatherly, a man that would work with them more after they left Gordy’s record company remains simply a song many can’t touch in singing. Brillantly produced by Joe Porter and became a top hit upon the charts.
Like, the Four Tops have done when departing for another label. The Pips featuring the Empress on lead found better success that surprised many executives, at Motown that over looked their oldest acts for a youth group. Notice that the proven and true artists survived more than the youth groups that many never saw longevity in lasting long.
As, a solo singer Gladys Knight have earned respect and honor worthy of a royal singer. Which anyone with musical taste must admit lies in her massive work, as one of the great.