Gladys Knight Biographies -
Reading Between the Lines

Gladys Knight biographies: Cookbook cover

If you search for printed Gladys Knight biographies, you won't find many. To my knowledge, there's just one, with Pips included. (The other book I know about, At Home With Gladys Knight, centers on diet and fitness for diabetics.)

The book I review below comes straight from the Motown artist's pen. If we can believe her in song, then why not in prose?

Gladys Knight Biographies -
Between Each Line of Pain and Glory

Gladys Knight biographies: Glory cover

By Gladys Knight, 1997

An online Gladys Knight bio like mine barely scratches the surface of the Motown singer's life. This family and musical history by writer Knight digs pretty deep into her personality, values, and even sins.

The book is anything but trashy, though. Knight's language is supple and playful. Colorful descriptions and wry humor make her an instantly likable narrator. When she addresses the readers directly with her asides and rhetorical questions, she makes us want to answer her anyway.

She's not all sunshine. She nicks certain colleagues (like "Miss Cute," Diana Ross) and exudes deep sadness for tragic figures like Jackie Wilson and Tammi Terrell.

She doesn't always focus on particular people or circumstances, either. Some reflections spark tangential tales. Others lead to pseudo-public service announcements about the lessons she has gleaned from events as a woman, African-American, or member of the music industry.

Still, Knight is impressively self-aware about her motivations and neuroses, so moralistic is not her only mode. Her ever-understanding nature toward rivals and even potential racists is a bit maddening. But her humble frankness is refreshing overall.

Don't let your last impression of the book come from the tacked-on final chapter about her suddenly failing marriage to Les Brown or the misspelled names scattered throughout ("Sam Cook"). Perfection it is not, as far as cohesion and research go.

But so long as Gladys Knight biographies like this one move us and show us a little about the artist, the Pips, and Motown, the reading experience should be a pleasant one.

Skip over from these Gladys Knight biographies to the main Motown books page.

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