Gladys Maria Knight (born May 28, 1944), known as the “Empress of Soul”, is an American singer–songwriter and actress. A seven-time Grammy Award-winner, Knight is best known for the hits she recorded during the 1960s and 1970s, for both the Motown and Buddah Records labels, with her group Gladys Knight & the Pips, which also included her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight and her cousins Edward Patten and William Guest.
Knight has been married four times and has three children. In 1960, she married her high school sweetheart, James Newman. They had one son, James “Jimmy” Newman (1962–1999). She retired from the road to raise their child while the Pips toured on their own. In 1963, after having her only daughter, Kenya, Knight returned to recording with the Pips in order to support her family. In the early 1960s, Gladys, James, and the Pips moved to Detroit, Michigan. Knight and her family lived on Sherbourne in Sherwood Forest, an upscale neighborhood on Detroit’s West Side. She also resided on LaSalle for a time.
Also in 1997, she was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, following her son and daughter. She had occasionally teased LDS Church president, the late Gordon B. Hinckley, that his flock needs to inject some “pep” into their music. Knight married her husband, William McDowell, in 2001. They have sixteen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.