She doesn’t look to be in her sixties, and she doesn’t act like it either. At 64 years old, Gladys Knight is still one of the most youthful women in show biz-and certainly one of the most fun. In other words, age hasn’t slowed the Queen of Soul a single bit. Not only does Knight continue to tour relentlessly, she owns (and often frequents) her successful chain of Gladys Knight and Ron Winan’s Chicken and Waffles restaurants, and appears regularly on television. Lucky for us, she also had 15 minutes to catch up with The Indy to catch prior to her show at the Granada Theatre this Saturday night.
Laughter served as the constant thread that ran throughout this conversation, and Knight’s uplifting spirit came as a welcome relief. Not even lost luggage, it seems, could get her down. “I’m just fantastic,” Knight practically giggled as she apologized for her tight schedule. “I’m so busy today! I just finished a travel section for our restaurant; we got another one-our fifth-opening in Ashville [Alabama] this March. And sorry about the push back,” she repeated. “The airline lost some luggage on our way to the set. These kinda things happen in our industry all the time, so we were a little behind schedule, but we still did our thing today!”
While Knight’s not completely sure if she’s performed in Santa Barbara before, she’s no less excited about her upcoming show at the Granada. “I’m really lookin’ forward to comin’ down [to Santa Barbara],” she exclaimed. “I love people and love to people watch, so as long as they’re there, I’ll like it. I can’t say I’ve never been there [to perform] before,” she continued. “Half the places I’ve been, I haven’t seen. I never get to experience the places I go.” This resonated as a downright shame, seeing as how Knight’s legendary voice has brought her around the globe multiple times.
She, however, would disagree that her voice alone has allowed her to tour the world. “Honestly, God has always been a part of my life. I couldn’t have dreamed this life. Sixty years? I know the Lord gave me this gift,” she proclaimed. “And I live life in a way that I hope is pleasing to Him. I think I’m doin’ good ‘cause He keeps me here! He also allows me to give to others, which is why I love the restaurant. It’s a wonderful thing. He always steers me to places to be with people, and I love that. Being able to take care of families, you know, ‘cause it’s a family restaurant, but also what He’s blessed me and mine with, it’s been a great journey,” she finished.
It’s rare to see such genuine fulfillment and humility in an artist, as music and art are so often inspired by feelings of longing and searching. But Knight is quite a fulfilled and satisfied woman-two things that come out clearly in both her presence and her craft. At this suggestion, Knight gracefully replied, “Gratitude is the most important thing, absolutely. You know, it’s really got nothing to do with homes, jewelry, how many cars you got parked in your big ol’ drive way-you gotta be grounded, you gotta know where it comes from. All those questions in life people never want to think about,” Knight said. “We gotta be thankful, we gotta be grateful. Everybody wants to be social, but it ain’t about me. And I’ll be the first to admit it. Talent is a gift,” she asserted.
Providing a stage for the singer while in town is the beautifully refinished Granada, a venue so classic, not enough can be said about it. Tickets are still available for the show in three price ranges. Although she didn’t suggest any of the songs she’d be playing before she ran out of interview time, attendees can expect Knight’s cheerful personality and vibrant voice to fill the intimate venue with harmony. “I’m already on the bus,” she concluded, “changing my clothes. We’re goin’ (from Atlanta, Georgia) to Indiana, and you know that takes a minute,” she giggled. “But I’ll see you in Santa Barbara next week.”
Gladys Knight will perform at the Granada Theatre (1214 State St.) on Saturday, November 1, at 8 p.m. Call 899-2222 or visit granadasb.org for ticket information.