Gladys Knight Brought Soul and Gospel to Tampa’s Hard Rock Event Center
The Empress of Soul came to Tampa with a 20-song setlist, a trio of female singers, and her band to entertain a full house at the Seminole Hard Rock’s Event Center. Gladys recently received the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2022. She was inducted with the Pips into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and is on Rolling Stone’s 2023 list of the top 200 greatest singers. Gladys Knight has won seven Grammy awards.
Appearing on stage in a silver sequined blouse and heels, she opened with a medley that included the Staple Singers hit, “I’ll Take You There” and a Gladys and the Pips tune with. “Make Yours a Happy Home”. She waves to fans, points them out and smiles warmly at the audience. Moving back and forth from one end of the stage to the other while continually singing, she defies her age of 78. Gladys and the Pips had the first hit of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” in 1967 and Gladys had the audience singing along to the still popular song. “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” was an emotional extravaganza! Her message was love. She reminded us about loving each other and spreading love to others.
Gladys told a story of meeting Barbra Streisand as both of them had recorded “The Way We Were”, Streisand in 1973 and Gladys in 1975. She performed the song with no background singers and held some amazingly long notes. Gladys was in great voice. Gladys and company then took us to church singing Winans covers “The Question Is” and “Everything You Touch Is a Song” and ended the gospel portion of the show with “Take Me to the King”.
There was the classic standard George Gershwin tune “Someone to Watch Over Me” included in the closing set. For the finale we all boarded the “Midnight Train to Georgia” with Gladys. The 1973 number one song has become an iconic tune for Gladys. She wished love for everyone and to give love in these times. The show ran a little over an hour, but the audience didn’t seem to mind taking quality over quantity. Gladys Knight is one of our American musical treasures!
Vicky Sullivan Photos