THE SURVIVOR:

Gladys Knight talks new show, returning to the Strip

Gladys Knight

The Empress of Soul returns to the Las Vegas Strip. And, this time, Gladys Knight plans to conquer.

The day after opening night at the Gladys Knight Theater at the Tropicana, the singer looks coiffed and comfortable. She’s in a giggly mood and leans against the arm of an oversized armchair in her dressing room, peeking over, coyly. Her smile, and her laugh, are infectious.

“This is the most amazing thing,” she says of her show, and her very own theater, a lifelong dream come true. “I’ve been out here for 65 years and they’re still showing up. We had a packed house.”

It wasn’t always this way.

“I’ve paid my dues like everybody else—probably more than some,” she says. “Mine is a message of perseverance and patience.”

Knight, who had a gambling addiction two decades ago, has seen her share of heartache in Las Vegas. This star is a self-described survivor.

Today, her dressing room is a little too hot for comfort, but that’s OK, it’s like that for her vocal chords, she says. Besides, she’s used to a little heat.

“If you don’t have a sense that there’s a future for you, then you get stuck in the moment,” she says. “In order to stay in an industry like ours you have to have the ability to change and to listen, while still knowing yourself.”

When she was younger, Knight, 66, says she learned from legendary performers of yesteryear.

“We used to dress to impress and respect,” she says. “We shouldn’t have to take our clothes off to be popular. How’s anybody going to respect you if you don’t respect yourself?”

Knight is working on a new CD, likely to be completed by the end of this month, that encapsulates where she’s been. It’s old-school meets new-school, and Knight says she can’t wait to share.

What would the Gladys Knight of today tell the Gladys Knight of 35 years ago?

A couple of things, she says, giggling, again, and holding up two fingers.

“You’ve gotta have faith in something. You need to have something you believe in,” she says. “Second, you need the patience to stick with it, to get where you want to be.”

Sounds like a survivor to us.

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