Gladys Knight Talks Music, Singing In The Kitchen, and Her Love of Cooking on Biscuits & Jam
About Biscuits & Jam: In the South, talking about food is personal. It’s a way of sharing your history, your family, your culture, and yourself. Each week Sid Evans, Editor in Chief of Southern Living, will sit down with celebrity musicians to hear stories of how they grew up, what inspired them, and how they’ve been shaped by Southern culture. Sid will take us back to some of their most cherished memories and traditions, the family meals they still think about, and their favorite places to eat on the road.
Episode 12: August 18, 2020
Gladys Knight, known around the world as the Empress of Soul, began performing in her native Atlanta at age 4. By 15, she and her brother and cousins, known as the Pips, already had a hit with their debut single “Every Beat of My Heart” in 1961.
Despite success on the R&B charts over the next decade, 1973 changed everything for the quartet with the release of “Midnight Train to Georgia,” which became not just the group’s crossover hit, but one of the most beloved pieces of American recorded music. The lyrics center around leaving the hustle-and-bustle of the big city behind for the comforts of home in the South, and even if you’re not a born Southerner, the sentiment remains universal for us all, nearly 50 years later.
On Her Love of Cooking
“I love to cook. I've been cooking since I was six-years-old. All of the ladies in my family would gather in the kitchen to cook, and that’s when I started. I was always in the way but they always let me stay. Rather than chastising me, they started teaching me to cook. When I turned 8, my mother bought me a children’s cookbook that I started cooking from. I was so excited. I’d make simple things like eggs or a special toast.”
On Her Family in the Kitchen
“My mom was a great cook but so was my entire family...Men are great cooks. All my uncles and my male cousins, and nephews, they came to cook, too. And on top of that, we'd all be singing. We had enough people in there cooking to have a choir. So that's what my life was like. And for some reason, we always had enough room for everybody.”
On Midnight Train to Georgia
“It was originally called Midnight Plane to Houston. When somebody would send us music, I would always read the lyrics first, and I just remember saying that this doesn't sound right. And so I asked if we could change the lyrics a little bit? I mentioned how I was having issues projecting the song because I didn’t know anything about Houston. He asked what I would rather sing. I said, Atlanta, because that is where we are from… And we don’t fly. We either ride the train or drive. Georgia for us was always home, especially Atlanta.”
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