Gladys Knight was among the few musical legends to receive a National Medal of Art from President Joe Biden on Tuesday (March 21).
The “Empress of Soul,” who’s won seven Grammy Awards over the span of her illustrious career, appeared at the White House wearing a pink suit, reader glasses, and an up-do hairstyle.
As Knight’s name was called, the entire room could be heard cheering for her as she accepted one of the nation’s highest honors. See below.
“The National Medal of Arts recipients have helped to define and enrich our nation’s cultural legacy through their life long passionate commitment,” National Endowment for the Arts chair Maria Rosario Jackson stated. “We are a better nation because of their contributions. Their work helps us see the world in different ways. It inspires us to reach our full potential and recognize our common humanity. I join the President in congratulating and thanking them.”
Knight was recognized for her “exceptional talent” that has “influenced musical genres” ranging from R&B to Gospel and Pop. The 78-year-old is a pioneering voice of the “golden age” of American music dating back to the 1960’s. The Atlanta-bred icon rose to prominence with No. 1 hits including “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “That’s What Friends Are For,” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is deemed one of the greatest singers of all time.
In 2022, Knight was also honored at the 45th Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements, in which she stated:
“I’m humbled beyond words to be included amongst this prestigious group of individuals, both past and present. You could never have told me as a young girl starting my career that I would be honored on a stage such as this, with artists and humanitarians such as these—it just wouldn’t have seemed possible. It would have been the dream of all dreams. I have been blessed with so much in my life and this certainly stands with those achievements at the top of that list.”
She added, “To be honored as a Kennedy Center Honoree is among the highlights of my career. I stand here with my fans, my family, my friends, my team, and my faith in accepting such an amazing distinction. It is dedicated to all those who paved the path for me to be able to accomplish the wonderful blessings I’ve been able to receive. The Kennedy Center’s commitment to the arts is unparalleled and I am so very grateful for this moment.”
Take a look at the living legend receive the National Medal of Art from POTUS above, and her Kennedy Center Honors performance of “Midnight Train to Georgia” below.