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Gladys Knight received the Society of Singers ELLA Award (named for its first recipient Ella Fitzgerald) in 2007, at which time Knight was declared the "Empress of Soul."

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If you go

› What: Gladys Knight concert

› Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

› When: 8 p.m. today, June 15; doors open at 7 p.m.

› Admission: $49.50, $59.50, $84.50 and $115

› For more information: 423-757-5580

Seven-time Grammy Award winner Gladys Knight brings the soul-stirring vocals that have carried her career for six decades to the Tivoli Theatre tonight, June 15.

"I have got to see my sister," says Sharon Kelly, a local Gladys Knight fan and owner of Sharon's Senior Services. "The songs she sings have a message, and it's always about love," Kelly says.

The 73-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is best-known for "Midnight Train to Georgia," the No. 1 hit released by Knight and The Pips in 1973. But her string of No. 1 singles includes "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "If I Were Your Woman," "Neither One of Us (Wants To Be the First To Say Goodbye), "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me" and "Love Overboard."

Born in Atlanta, Knight began singing at age 4 and garnered national attention at 7 after winning Ted Mack's "The Original Amateur Hour" TV show in 1952.

Knight started singing with the group known as The Pips that same year. Singers included brother Merald "Bubba" Knight, sister Brenda Knight and cousins William and Eleanor Guest. Another cousin, Edward Patten, and a friend, Langston George, replaced Brenda Knight and Eleanor Guest in 1959. The all-male Pips lineup produced the group's first hit single, "Every Beat of My Heart," in 1961.

Knight joined Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder and Elton John on the 1986 AIDS benefit song, "That's What Friends Are For," and she recorded the title track for the James Bond movie "License To Kill" in 1989.

Knight was a Golden Globe nominee for New Star of the Year in the 1976 picture "Pipe Dreams." She acted in the movie and worked with The Pips to provide the soundtrack. She sang "The Need To Be" in Tyler Perry's "I Can Do Bad All by Myself" in 2009.

She guest-starred on television shows in the 1980s-90s such as "Benson," "The Jeffersons," "A Different World," "The Jamie Foxx Show" and "New York Undercover." In 2012, she competed on the 14th season of "Dancing With the Stars."

Kelly says she appreciates Knight's music for its ability to bring people together despite their differences. "She sings for everybody, not just for one generation or one race of people. She sings about love," says Kelly.

"We need more of that, thinking about love and being united as one."

Contact Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6431.

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