Gladys Knight is honoring the venue that helped save her career at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year.
When the house lights go up, the curtains are drawn and a voice takes to the microphone you are instantly reminded that the Apollo Theater is an American landmark, known for helping to introduce some of the greatest talents to the world, such as James Brown and Michael Jackson.
For Gladys, the Apollo is much more than that; it’s the place she is forever thankful to for giving her a home, guidance and for saving her voice. While celebrating the Gladys Knight & the Pips plaque on the Apollo’s new Walk of Fame, she reflected on the significance of the legendary theater’s role in her life.
“I am grateful to the Apollo for allowing us to have a venue to come to. There were times we couldn’t play anywhere else,” Gladys recalled. “In this theater, something happened I’ve not seen done in any theaters during my 63 years in the industry.”
She continued, “Not only did they give shows, but Mr. Schiffman–both of them Bobby and Frank–would come up after the show and give us critiques on everything we did. That’s how learned to do it better.”
Gladys revealed that one of those critiques even helped to save her voice.
“Every time I came here doing six shows a day, by the second show I didn’t have no voice. So they sent me to the doctor,” she explained. “I had a couple of bad teeth and the poison from my teeth was draining down to my vocal chords. I would not have known that had it not been for the Schiffman’s using their own funds and doctors to let me know that.”
To demonstrate her gratitude, Gladys presented the original 45" record, Every Beat of My Heart (1961) to the Apollo Theater Archive. Plus, Gladys is representing the Apollo as the featured performer on the Apollo Theater float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For Apollo Theater President & CEO Jonelle Procope, the debut of the Apollo Theater float underscores the theater’s commitment to honor legends and nurture new talent.
“Macy’s asked us to do this. So we felt terrific to have Gladys Knight on the float plus some of our amateurs,” Jonelle said. “We are all about the legends and emerging talent and giving young artists an opportunity.”
With such commitment to talent, the institution will undoubtedly help mold many more aspiring talents, who, like Gladys, will forever be thankful to the Apollo.