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Before Me

Gladys Knight

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Album Review

At a time when most of her contemporaries are satisfied reliving their glory years to appreciative audiences in casinos and theaters, Gladys Knight continues her refusal to be pigeonholed as a soul singer. With 2000's At Last, she returned to the mainstream R&B circuit with a session of adult contemporary R&B that was equally accessible and refreshing, and with 2005's One Voice she collaborated with the Saints Unified Voices for a fiery gospel and praise record. So this time around, Knight recruited legendary producer Phil Ramone and an impressive lineup of jazz musicians to record an album of jazz ballads and standards that influenced her during the formative years of her singing career. At first, the prospect of Knight's soulful, gritty vocal styles taking on some of jazz's greatest moments may be a questionable proposal for jazz purists, but all hesitation can be safely swept aside during the album's opening moments, a fantastic rendition of the Ellington classic "Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me." Gone are the grit and raspy nature of Knight's voice, and in their place is a smooth, sultry set of vocal cords safely in control of the delivery of the material. Every single song here is already a bona fide hit, and Knight does them all justice in a way few soul singers could. Wonderfully relaxing, classy, and pleasantly void of vocal histrionics, Before Me is another important chapter and highlight in a career that is chock-full of them.

Customer Reviews

"Before Me"

"Before Me" is a gorgeous offering from one of the true gems of soul and jazz music, Gladys Knight. Exploring the songs of previous eras - those interpreted by the greats that came "before her," such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiay, Lena Horne, Nina Simone and other jazz legends - this album is like Gladys Knight coming home and reassuring us of her rightful place as a legend. Skilful interpretation of loved jazz standards and Ms. Knight's luscious voice make this album one to treasure for generations to come.

Biography

Born: 28 May 1944 in Atlanta, GA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the great soul singers, Gladys Knight was a performer from her childhood years, forming the Pips with her brother Merald and a couple cousins. They made the Top Ten in 1961 with the heavily doo wop-influenced "Every Beat of My Heart," and recorded some fine, nowadays overlooked pop-soul sides for the Fury and Maxx labels in the early and mid-'60s, sometimes under the direction of songwriter Van McCoy. A couple singles from this period, "Letter Full of Tears" and "Giving Up," made the Top 40,...
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Before Me, Gladys Knight
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