Gladys Knight, also known as the Empress of Soul, is a legendary American singer and songwriter. With her powerful and soulful voice, she has been entertaining audiences for over six decades. Knight started her career in the 1950s with her siblings in the group Gladys Knight and the Pips.
The group went on to achieve international success and became one of the most influential soul and R&B groups of all time. As a solo artist, Knight continued to create chart-topping hits and won numerous awards for her music.
In this list, we will take a look at the 10 best Gladys Knight songs of all time, including some of her most iconic hits and fan favorites. These songs showcase the raw emotion and unmatched talent that has made Gladys Knight a true music icon.
1. “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”
“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” is a soulful and emotive song recorded by Gladys Knight & The Pips. The song was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, and it became one of the biggest hits of the Motown era. The track features a captivating melody and powerful vocal performance by Gladys Knight, as she sings about a lover who has been unfaithful. The song’s lyrics are simple yet effective, with Knight’s vocals perfectly conveying the heartbreak and pain of discovering her lover’s infidelity. The track has become a timeless classic, with its catchy chorus and memorable hook still captivating audiences today. The song’s popularity has also been boosted by several high-profile covers, including Marvin Gaye’s version, which also became a hit.
2. “Midnight Train to Georgia”
“Midnight Train to Georgia” is a soulful ballad performed by Gladys Knight & The Pips, released in 1973. The song tells the story of a man who left his hometown in Georgia to pursue a career in Hollywood, but ultimately failed and returned to Georgia. The lyrics focus on the man’s determination to make a new life for himself and his love for his partner who follows him on the midnight train to Georgia. The song features a catchy chorus and powerful vocals from Gladys Knight, who delivers an emotional performance that captures the heart and soul of the lyrics. “Midnight Train to Georgia” became one of the biggest hits of Gladys Knight & The Pips, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group or Chorus.
3. “Neither One Of Us”
“Neither One Of Us” is a classic soul ballad by Gladys Knight and the Pips that was released in 1972. The song features a hauntingly beautiful melody that perfectly captures the pain and heartbreak of a failing relationship. Gladys Knight’s powerful vocals, backed by the smooth harmonies of the Pips, add an emotional depth to the song that has made it a timeless classic. The lyrics speak of a love that is fading away and the struggle to hold on, even when it seems like there is no hope left. With its soulful sound and powerful message, “Neither One Of Us” has become one of Gladys Knight’s most iconic songs.
4. “License to Kill”
“License to Kill” is a powerful ballad by Gladys Knight, originally written for the James Bond movie of the same name. The song was co-written by Narada Michael Walden, Jeffrey Cohen, and Walter Afanasieff and released as a single in 1989. Knight’s soulful voice is at its best in this emotionally charged song that speaks of the dangers of love and the consequences of losing control. With its haunting melody and heartfelt lyrics, “License to Kill” is a standout in Gladys Knight’s discography and remains a fan favorite to this day.
“Love Overboard” is a danceable R&B hit song by Gladys Knight released in 1987. The song was written by Reggie and Vincent Calloway, and was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It features upbeat horns and catchy lyrics, with Knight’s soulful vocals soaring over the music. The song’s catchy chorus “Love, love overboard, ship is sinkin’, love takes over” became an instant favorite among fans, and the track went on to top the Billboard R&B charts for two weeks, becoming one of Knight’s biggest hits. “Love Overboard” showcases Knight’s signature style of combining R&B and soul with catchy pop hooks, and remains a beloved classic in her catalog of music.
6. “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”
“Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” is a classic soul ballad by Gladys Knight and the Pips. The song was released in 1974 and became a huge hit, reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the R&B chart. The song is known for its powerful lyrics, which describe a love that has endured through both good times and bad. Gladys Knight’s soulful vocals are perfectly complemented by the Pips’ harmonies, and the song’s lush orchestration adds to its emotional impact. “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” has become a timeless classic, and it continues to be a beloved favorite of soul and R&B fans around the world.
7. “If I Were Your Woman”
“If I Were Your Woman” is a soulful classic by Gladys Knight & the Pips released in 1970. The song, written by Gloria Jones, Clay McMurray, and Pam Sawyer, is about a woman who longs to be with a man who is already in a relationship. The lyrics tell the story of a woman who would do everything in her power to make him happy and never let him go if she had the chance. The song’s arrangement is simple yet powerful, with Gladys Knight’s powerful vocals soaring over a horn-heavy instrumental. “If I Were Your Woman” became one of the group’s most successful singles, reaching number one on the R&B chart and number nine on the pop chart. The song has been covered by numerous artists and remains a soul classic.
8. “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination”
“I’ve Got To Use My Imagination” is a soulful and powerful song by Gladys Knight and the Pips that was released in 1973. The song was written by Gerry Goffin and Barry Goldberg and it tells the story of a woman who is struggling to move on from a failed relationship. Despite the pain and heartache, the woman refuses to give up and is determined to find happiness and love again. Gladys Knight’s soulful vocals perfectly capture the emotion and depth of the lyrics, and the Pips’ harmonies provide the perfect accompaniment. The song’s catchy melody and upbeat rhythm make it an instant classic that has stood the test of time. “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination” was a huge success for Gladys Knight and the Pips and became one of their signature songs.
9. Try to Remember”
“Try to Remember” is a beautiful ballad that was popularized by Gladys Knight and the Pips in 1975. The song is a cover of the classic from the musical “The Fantasticks”. Gladys Knight’s smooth and soulful voice takes center stage in this song, as she sings about the memories of a lost love. The song’s lyrics encourage the listener to recall happier times and cherish the memories, even in the face of heartbreak. With its haunting melody and heartfelt lyrics, “Try to Remember” showcases Gladys Knight’s incredible vocal talent and her ability to convey emotion through her music.
10. “On and On”
“On and On” is a soulful ballad by Gladys Knight & The Pips. Released in 1987, the song features Knight’s signature powerful vocals, emotively expressing the pain of a love gone wrong. The slow tempo and gentle instrumentation create a melancholic atmosphere, allowing Knight’s voice to take center stage. The lyrics explore the pain of heartbreak and the struggle to move on, with Knight asking how she’s supposed to carry on with a heart that’s broken. The song’s chorus provides a glimmer of hope, with Knight singing “I know I’m gonna make it, I know I will, just as long as you’re gone, it’s gonna be easy, baby, for me to carry on.” “On and On” is a timeless classic that showcases Knight’s exceptional talent as a vocalist and her ability to connect with listeners on an emotional level.