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The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has revealed that Gladys Knight will be recognized for her lifetime artistic achievements at the 45th Kennedy Center Honors, along with honorees U2, George Clooney, “Queen of Christian Pop” Amy Grant and Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Tania Leòn. Previous honorees that have acquired such a prestigious honor include Earth, Wind & Fire, Joni Mitchell, Bette Midler and more. The annual ceremony is set for December 4 at Washington, D.C. and will broadcast at a later date on CBS.
In a statement, the Grammy-winning icon expressed: “I’m humbled beyond words to be included amongst this prestigious group of individuals, both past and present. You could never have told me as a young girl starting my career that I would be honored on a stage such as this, with artists and humanitarians such as these—it just wouldn’t have seemed possible. It would have been the dream of all dreams. I have been blessed with so much in my life and this certainly stands with those achievements at the top of that list.”
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She added, “To be honored as a Kennedy Center Honoree is among the highlights of my career. I stand here with my fans, my family, my friends, my team, and my faith in accepting such an amazing distinction. It is dedicated to all those who paved the path for me to be able to accomplish the wonderful blessings I’ve been able to receive. The Kennedy Center’s commitment to the arts is unparalleled and I am so very grateful for this moment.”
Receiving the Kennedy honor makes Knight the fifth former-Motown Records artist to receive the accolade. Other honorees included Stevie Wonder in 1999, Smokey Robinson (2006), Diana Ross (2007) and Lionel Richie (2017). According to sources, in 2021 Motown founder and icon Berry Gordy Jr. was acknowledged.
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Gladys Knight & the Pips had a trajectory of hits on the Motown label like “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye).” Throughout her career, Knight has scored seven Grammys within three separate musical genres: pop, R&B and Gospel. In 1973 Knight & the Pips became the first group to win in the categories of pop for “Neither One of Us,” and R&B for the beloved “Midnight Train to Georgia” — making her the perfect candidate for such an honor.
Congratulations to Ms. Knight!