Gulf Coast Summer Fest is back and better than ever. This year, the legendary Gladys Knight will return to Pensacola on September 5. Joining her will be one of R&B music's most beloved and consistently popular vocal groups, The Whispers, and contemporary award winning recording artist, Stephanie Mills. Come experience a once in a lifetime event at Pensacola Bay Center on September 5th! Tickets go on sale, July 17th. For more information visit pensacolabaycenter.com.
Gladys Knight The great ones endure, and Gladys Knight has long been one of the greatest. Very few singers over the last fifty years have matched her unassailable artistry. This seven-time Grammy winner has enjoyed #1 hits in Pop, Gospel, R&B and Adult Contemporary, and has triumphed in film, television and live performance. In her first effort since 2013’s “Another Journey” – Knight’s 8th solo effort – this summer marked the release of “Where My Heart Belongs”, a new inspiration gospel album. Knight is a two-time Grammy winner in the gospel category, and “Where My Heart Belongs” dropped on September 9th from Deseret Book, and recently won an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Gospel Album.” “Another Journey” enjoyed success from the hit “I Who Have Nothing” as well as the up-tempo track “Settle,” produced by Randy Jackson, with whom she previously collaborated with on her Grammy-winning album, “At Last.” Knight also enjoyed the success of her song “You and I Ain’t Nothin’ No More” which appeared over the end credits of the critically-acclaimed Lee Daniels film THE BUTLER. Last month, Knight returned to the small screen in the Lifetime original movie “Seasons of Love”. In the story about two lovers as they journey through life, love and family, Knight stars alongside Oscar-nominee Taraji P. Henson and fellow Grammy winner Cliff “Method Man” Smith. In the New Year she will guest on Lee Daniels and FOX TV’s new series “Empire” opposite Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. Also on the small screen, Knight recently shared her musical expertise on the second season of Centric’s original series “Apollo Live.” Joining judges Doug E. Fresh and Michael Bivins, the legendary songstress gave guidance to contestants as they took the stage with the hope to jumpstart their career in the entertainment industry. No stranger to performing and light choreography over the course of her career, Knight raised the stakes when she put on her dancing shoes in the spring of 2012. She joined the cast of ABC’s hit reality competition “Dancing with the Stars” for season 14, partnering with Tristan MacManus.
The year of 2011 was a year of much recognition as Knight was both honoring and being honored, first at a Michael Jackson tribute concert, and then at the 2011 Soul Train Awards. At the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Knight joined such performers as Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce, and Smokey Robinson in a tribute to the legendary King of Pop in a concert event called “Michael Forever.” Following that, Knight was honored with a “Legend Award” alongside fellow recipients Earth, Wind & Fire on the BET broadcast of the 3rd annual Soul Train Awards, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer.
Knight, known as the “Empress of Soul,” a longtime Las Vegas resident, returned to the Strip in the late-2000s to the famed Tropicana Hotel for a special engagement that ran in the newly named Gladys Knight Theater, making her the first African-American performer to have a venue named after her in Las Vegas. This followed a successful four-year show run at The Flamingo, which the Las Vegas Review-Journal praised as “the number-one show on the Strip.” A tireless humanitarian, Knight is an iconic supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of America, to which she donated a Randy Jackson-produced song, “The Dream.” As the celebrated singer of the timeless song “Midnight Train to Georgia,” Knight was a natural fit as national spokesperson and host of Amtrak’s National Train Day, the celebration of which took place Washington, DC’s famed Union Station.
In February 2011, Knight reunited with Elton John, Dionne Warwick, and Stevie Wonder for the first time in 25 years to perform their Grammy-winning song, “That’s What Friends Are For” at an AIDS research benefit at the downtown Cipriani in New York. Adored the world over, Knight then toured across the UK, performing at packed arenas that included a sold-out performance at Wembley Stadium.
Knight fans enjoyed Before Me – Knight’s last big commercial effort – which paid homage to the great legends of song – Ella, Duke, Billie, Lena – as well as the many artists who served as Knight’s friends, mentors, colleagues and inspiration throughout her career. Knight’s second collaboration with the Saints Unified Voices gospel choir, A Christmas Celebration, was an album of holiday classics. Coming off of a “Best Gospel/Choir Album” Grammy win with their debut album One Voice, Knight again directed the 100-member multi-cultural choir she formed, injecting their unique flavor and definitive soul into such Christmas staples as “Silent Night,” “White Christmas,” and a medley of “Winter Wonderland/Jingle Bells” among others.
Adding to her already impressive collection, Knight won another Grammy for her duet with the late Ray Charles on his posthumous album Genius Loves Company (2005). The duo won for Best Gospel Performance for their duet “Heaven Help Us All.” Knight’s solo album At Last also won a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album in 2002 and featured a duet with Jamie Foxx, “I Wanna Be Loved.” During the televised opening ceremonies kicking off the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Knight performed “This is Our Time” (which she co-wrote with husband William McDowell), which was featured on a commemorative Olympic album.
A tireless performer who still wows audiences around the country and the world, Knight also finds the time to make forays into film and television. Her version of “I Hope You Dance” played during the end credits of Tyler Perry’s THE FAMILY THAT PREYS TOGETHER, and she appeared in his film I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF (which featured her song “The Need to Be”). She also starred in the holiday-themed HOLIDAZE, her first animated project to which she also contributed a track, UNBEATABLE HAROLD, and the Harrison Ford film HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE. On the small screen, Knight did a cameo on the Emmy-winning NBC hit comedy “30 Rock”, and also appeared in NBC’s “Las Vegas,” former CBS hit “JAG,” and former FOX talent competitions “American Juniors” and “Duets.” She also starred as Jamie Foxx’s mother on “The Jamie Foxx Show.” Knight has appeared as a guest judge on FOX’s smash hit “American Idol,” and has performed in the show’s always star-studded finale. In season two of “Idol,” Knight famously dubbed eventual winner Ruben Studdard the ‘Velvet Teddy Bear” while she sat in the guest judge’s chair.
Georgia-born, Knight began performing gospel music at age four in the Mount Mariah Baptist Church and sang as a guest soloist with the Morris Brown College Choir. Three years later, she won the grand prize on television’s “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour,” and the following year, her mother Elizabeth Knight created the group consisting of Gladys, her brother Bubba, her sister Brenda and her cousins William and Elenor Guest. They called themselves The Pips in honor of their cousin/manager, James Pip Woods. In 1959, Brenda and Elenor left the group, replaced by cousin Edward Patten and friend Langston George. The group was renamed Gladys Knight & The Pips, and following George’s departure in 1962, the classic line-up was in place.
The group debuted their first album in 1960, when Knight was just sixteen. With Knight singing lead and The Pips providing lush harmonies and graceful choreography, the group went on to achieve icon status, having recorded some of the most memorable songs of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Top 20 hits, like “Every Beat of My Heart,” “Letter Full of Tears,” “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” and “If I Were Your Woman,” set the stage for an amazing run in the mid-1970s, with Top 10 gold-certified singles like “Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye),” “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination,” “Best Thing to Ever Happen to Me” and the #1 smash “Midnight Train to Georgia” established Gladys Knight and The Pips as the premiere pop/R&B vocal ensemble in the world. The party kept rolling with hits like “On and On” from the Academy Award nominated soundtrack of Curtis Mayfield’s “Claudine,” the 1974 comedy about love in the inner city. Knight enjoyed another #1 hit in 1985 when she teamed with Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Dionne Warwick on “That’s What Friends are For.” She and Stevie Wonder sang together again for the successful Frank Sinatra Duets II album, joining his voice for the song “For Once in My Life” in 1994.
All told, Knight has recorded more than 38 albums over the years, including four solo albums during the past decade: “Good Woman” (1991); “Just for You” (1994); the inspirational “Many Different Roads” (1999); and “At Last” (2001). “At Last” showed the world that she still has what it takes to record a hit album, employing the talents of contemporary producers like Randy Jackson, Gary Brown and James D.C. Williams III, Jon John, Jamey Jaz, Keith Thomas, Tom Dowd and Tiger Roberts.
Her involvement in other creative undertakings, business ventures and humanitarian activities has been extensive, and has brought her honors from industry and community alike. In 1986, she produced and starred in the Cable Ace Award-winning “Sisters in the Name of Love,” an HBO special co-starring Dionne Warwick and Patti LaBelle. That same year, she showcased her acting ability when she co-starred with Flip Wilson in the CBS comedy “Charlie & Co.” Other acting roles followed on such TV shows as “Benson,” “The Jefferson’s” and “New York Undercover,” and in such television films as “Pipe Dreams,” “An Enemy Among Us” and “Desperado.” She recorded the title theme for the James Bond movie “License to Kill” (1989). In 1999, she completed a starring run on Broadway in the smash musical hit “Smokey Joe’s Café.”
In 1995, Knight earned her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the next year, Gladys Knight & The Pips were inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Knight published an autobiography, “Between Each Line of Pain and Glory” (a line taken from her million selling recording “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”), in 1997, and the next year, she and The Pips were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. In 2004, Knight received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the annual BET Awards ceremony.
The Whispers One of R&B music's most beloved and consistently popular vocal groups, The Whispers, began their legendary and timeless career in 1963. Twin brothers Walter and Wallace Scott joined with friends Nicholas Caldwell, Marcus Hutson, and Gordy Harmon to form a local singing group. They perfected their tight harmonies on the street corners in the Watts section of Los Angeles and in nightclubs in the in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area.
They began singing together as "the Eden trio" created by Nicholas Caldwell and Marcus Hutson. Later, they were renamed "The Whispers" by Lou Bedell of Dore Records. The group recorded nine singles for the Dore label between 1964 and 1967. Their fame grew in the Bay Area while performing in a series of what was known as "The Battle of the Bands" where they competed against other local acts for their fans appreciation and affection. In 1969 they released "The Time Will Come" for a small L.A. based label Soul Clock Records, and subsequently recorded their first Top 10 R&B hit, "Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong," in 1970 when the group switched to Janus Records. By 1971 Gordy Harmon decided to leave the group and was replaced by Leaveil Degree who had previously sung with "The Friends of Distinction".
The Whispers produced a string of hits over the next two decades and emerged as the leading romantic singers of their generation, racking up one gold album after another and charting numerous R&B hits throughout the seventies and eighties. The Whispers were the first artists featured on the newly formed Soul Train label (co- owned by the TV show's creator and host Don Cornelius and entrepreneur Dick Griffey). They gained national attention with their seventies albums, "One For The Money", "Open Up Your Love", and "Headlights" producing two singles that graced Billboard's Top 20 R&B Charts: "(Let's Go) All the Way" and "(Olivia) Lost and Turned Out".
Their first platinum album "The Whispers" (1980) highlighted "A Song For Donny," a song written by Carrie Lucas in memory of Donny Hathaway, and their biggest hit "And The Beat Goes On." It was their most successful selling album (double platinum). The neoclassic "Lady," written by group member Nicholas Caldwell, is still a favorite at concerts. 1987's "Just Gets Better with Time", went platinum. It featured the R&B number 1 and US Top 10 pop entry "Rock Steady", a collaboration with Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.
Their vocal style harkens back to a more genteel era of crooning, preferring soft pillow talk and songs that speak to heartfelt emotions. They are arguably the most celebrated R&B balladeers of their generation and still make women swoon with their silky yet forceful tenors of twins Walter and Scotty. In the 1990s, The Whispers joined the Capitol Records family releasing more favorites. Expanding their creative horizons, brothers Walter and Scotty cut "My Brothers Keeper", a critically acclaimed duet album in 1993, scoring another R&B hit with a cover of the Intruders' "I Wanna Know Your Name." "Toast to the Ladies" released in 1995 featured a collection of love songs dedicated to women all overthe world. In 1997 the group moved to Interscope Records where they featured the works of Babyface once again with their album, "Songbook, Vol. 1: The Songs of Babyface".
Marcus stopped performing with the group in 1989 due to ill health, and in 2000, when he passed on, the Whispers vowed never to replace him. In the new millennium the group still performs around the world to thousands of loyal fans. The group has not made any personnel changes and still consists of Walter Scott, Wallace Scott, Nicholas Caldwell, and Leaveil Degree. They have taken Las Vegas by storm, selling out in various casinos and hotels, and they have a tremendous following on the West and East coasts, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, St. Louis, Indiana, and Chicago. On September 23, 2003,
The Whispers' four decades of accomplishments were acknowledged when Charlie Thomas of the Drifters inducted them into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. On June 12, 2005, The San Francisco Chapter of the Grammy Awards presented the Whispers with the prestigious Governors Award, the highest honor bestowed by an Academy Chapter. They continue to perform to sell-out crowds all over the world, and their popularity continues to grow among youth whose parents "raised" them on the Whispers' music.
They are also known for their charitable work with youth that participate in the PAL (Police Athletic League) Reading Program, and their ongoing support to domestic violence organizations and cancer agencies. They are one of only a few "old School" groups that can boast of having over 40 years in the industry with a worldwide fan base, maintaining their vocal dominance and original members. The Whispers waited almost a decade to produce a new CD in 2006. This independent product, the first venture of their newly formed company "Satin Tie Productions", is a masterpiece entitled "For Your Ears Only". According to Walter, "This title is a way of saying to our fans that we appreciate everybody's support that has been with us for many, many years." Nick's perspective deals with its essence. He states, "In my opinion, the CD represents the musical DNA and artistic expression of what the Whispers were and have become during their 42 years together. It was conceived to please the ears, hearts and minds of our super- supportive and loyal family of fans. It was a labor of love and I believe a body of work blessed by God.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Four Decades of Pop and R & B Favorites, Seven Gold Albums, Two Platinum Albums, 12 Top Twenty Singles, 40 Charted Hits Since 1970, American Music Award Nominees, Soul Train Award Nominees, Grammy Award Nominees 2003 Vocal Group
Stephanie Mills, Stephanie Mills is one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music whose onstage energy and power inspires standing ovations wherever she performs. She is a legendary Grammy and America Music Award winning recording artist with five best selling albums and ten Billboard #1 singles.
CAREER HISTORY, Over the span of 35 years illustrious career, Stephanie Mills has distinguished herself as an actress and performer. Stephanie‘s critically acclaimed appearances in shows like the four-time Tony Award -winning “The Wiz” have assured her of her consistent and loyal fan base. Stephanie hails from Brooklyn, New York and grew up singing in her home church. Her vocal abilities became evident by age nine. For six consecutive weeks, a young Stephanie won the amateur night at the acclaimed Apollo Theatre. She then went on to do her first Broadway musical, "Maggie Flynn". She then did classical tv shows such as "Captain Kangaroo" and "The Electric Company”. Ms. Mills signed with 20th Century Fox Records in 1979. While working with producers James Mtume and Reggie Lucas, Stephanie recorded "Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin" and by 1984, she had climbed the charts with major hits: "Sweet Sensation", "Never Knew Love Like This Before" (a gold single), "Two Hearts" (a duet with Teddy Pendergrass), "Keep Away Girls", "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?." Stephanie scored three best selling albums in a row with "Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin", "Sweet Sensation', and "Stephanie" in a span of just two years.