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NY1's Dean Meminger profiles some of soul and R&B's greatest performers as part of his ongoing series.

Black Music Month: Gladys Knight Keeps Soulful Sounds On Track

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As a salute to Black Music Month, NY1's Dean Meminger takes a look at the storied career of Motown artist Gladys Knight and filed the following report.

The deep soul sound of Gladys Knight just rings in your ears. She's been on the train called soul for more than 60 years.

"From the time I was a little girl, four years old, doing different recitals in different little cities," says Knight.

She started out doing gospel music and winning talent shows with her extended family. Very early in her journey the group became Gladys Knight and The Pips featuring her brother and cousins. While they cranked out hit after hit, Gladys says they were tricked into recording their first single.

"That song happened to be 'Every Beat of My Heart.' He recorded it that night. Next thing we knew our friends from school were telling us, 'We love your song,'" recalls Knight.

Nowadays, almost everyone knows a few songs sung by the legendary entertainer with seven Grammy awards.

Although she's been on the gospel, soul, R&B and pop charts, Gladys says a lot of her songs should have been on the country charts because they were written by country musicians.

"Most of our music came from the country arena, 'You're the Best Thing That Happened to Me,' 'Neither One of Us Wants to Be The First to Say Goodbye,' 'Midnight Train to Georgia,'" says Knight.

The smash hit "Midnight Train to Georgia" started out with a totally different title.

“It was the midnight plane to Houston," recalls Knight. "Well we weren't traveling to Houston a whole lot during those days. We don’t know nothing about Houston. We said, 'Yea, we're from Georgia."

Along with Georgia there was plenty of time spent in New York at the Copa Cabana and the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

"My daughter was born in Flushing, in Flushing General," says Knight. "We came here to make our way. My mother always said you have to go where it is. This was the music capital, so we came to New York and we struggled."

Gladys Knights' efforts all paid off with a successful career whose soul journey shows no signs of losing steam.

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