Gladys Knight on Alicia Keys

Gladys Knight, who plays almost nightly at the Flamingo in Las Vegas, recently picked up her sixth Grammy for her duet with the late Ray Charles, “Heaven Help Us All,” which nailed Best Gospel Performance. She has recorded 44 albums over the years, alone and backed by the Pips. Knight has starred on Broadway; written an autobiography, Between Each Line of Pain and Glory: My Life Story; and recently released another gospel collabo, One Voice, with a 100-plus–member choir that she directed herself.

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Here she shows Alicia Keys some love:“When I first saw her perform, I had a wait-and-see attitude. Clive Davis premiered her at one of his Grammy parties, and she sang my song ‘Neither One of Us.’ She didn’t try to be me, she just did her thing. I thought she had a fresh sound. Afterward I met her in the hall, and I thought she was beautiful and classy. She sounds old-school, and that’s so refreshing. Some of this rap music out here is fine, but some of it is like, ‘I get my gun and pimp you…’

Enough already. We told that story. We’re moving on. Okay, so you can have 50 people onstage, blowing up everything, but let’s see what you can do when it’s just you singing. Let’s see what you can do at the piano, sitting down. Alicia’s getting us back to basics. She can represent—not just the music, but the total package. I’m so happy for her.”