By photojournalist Jayne Drooger
A wonderful place for music and one of our most intimate venues, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tampa Event Center hosted Gladys Knight this week without the Pips who, by the way, were almost all related but retired in 1988. Together they had multiple hits. Gladys has seven Grammys, four as a solo artist and three with the Pips.
Tuesday night the audience was treated to a plethora of medleys, some featuring her music and some including the likes of Michael Jackson and Luther Vandross. She had 3 amazing back-up singers not to mention a big Las Vegas-style band. Personally, I hoped for a few songs with just the piano, but she continued with hit after hit and never tired even in those heels! She is 78 years young. Naturally, the audience sang along to “You’re the Best Thing” and “If I Were Your Woman”, followed by Curtis Mayfield’s “Keep On Keeping On” and her beautiful version of Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance”.
Gladys Knight and The Pips joined Motown Records in 1966 where they had two of their biggest hits “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and “Neither One Of Us”. She shared a little of her life and faith and then continued the praise with Donnie McClurkin’s (After You’ve Done All You Can) “Stand” and her backup church choir stood to sing the beautiful gospel song “Take Me To The King”.
I was thrilled when she broke into my favorite, iconic Gershwin song “Someone To Watch Over Me”, and then wrapped up the show with “Midnight Train To Georgia” There were many more hits we all wanted to hear but the show would have gone way past the allotted time as Gladys is an icon, herself.