Gladys Knight on her decades-long friendship with Patti LaBelle: ‘That’s my little sister’


Gladys Knight is getting candid about her relationship with Patti LaBelle.

Knight was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, and her close friend, LaBelle, was there to pay tribute to her, something that meant a lot to Knight as the two have had a friendship spanning over six decades.

“That’s my little sister. We have been together since we were like this,” Knight, 78, told Fox News Digital while gesturing low to the ground. “Every now and then, things get a little rough. We got kids, we both had children the same time.”

During the ceremony, LaBelle, 78, took the stage to pay tribute to her friend, calling Knight her “everything” and reminiscing about their decades-long friendship. Before going into her performance of “That’s What Friends Are For,” LaBelle explained, “We do everything together,” recalling the moments throughout their friendship in which they have laughed and cried together, saying, “I am honored to honor you tonight.”

Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle have been friends for more than six decades, and LaBelle was there to honor her friend at the Kennedy Center Honors.
(Johnny Nunez/WireImage)


The two legends in the music industry have taken the stage together many times in the past, the first time being in 1986 for the HBO special “Sisters in the Name of Love,” which also included Dionne Warwick, and most recently at “A Friendsgiving Event,” which took place on Nov. 13 in Little Rock, Arkansas.

LaBelle, Knight and Warwick have remained close, with LaBelle telling HollywoodLife in January 2021 that they have been able to keep their friendship thriving because they don’t get jealous of one another.


“What is it that makes us work as friends? First [is] knowing that neither one of us can outshine [the other]. You can’t blow out my candles so yours can shine brighter because the three of us are singing totally different songs,” LaBelle told the outlet. The thing is to have friendship first, I believe, and no battles, no battles. Why battle when you can make everybody happy by seeing three Black women get along?”

In addition to LaBelle, the tribute for Knight also included performances by Garth Brooks, Mickey Guyton and Ariana DeBose, who sang some of Knight’s biggest hits, such as “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”

Gladys Knight and The Pips worked together to release many hit albums such as "Miss Gladys Knight" and "Good Woman."

Gladys Knight and The Pips worked together to release many hit albums such as “Miss Gladys Knight” and “Good Woman.”
(Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Along with her backup singers, known as “The Pips,” Knight has released 12 studio albums, including “Miss Gladys Knight,” “Good Woman” and “Many Different Roads,” and she was awarded the title of “Empress of Soul” in 2007. In 1996, Gladys Knight & the Pips were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one year after Knight was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Knight was also included in Rolling Stone’s list of Greatest Singers of All Time, with some of her biggest hits including “Come and See About Me,” “Stay Away” and “The Way We Were.”

The legend in the music industry is also a seven-time Grammy Award-winning artist, and she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2004 BET Awards. She has also been very involved in various philanthropic causes, such as the American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society, the Minority AIDS Project and many others, according to her website.


Prior to his performance, Brooks spoke about the influence Knight has had on his music, saying her roots in country music are inspiring, with star LL Cool J saying Knight can sing about anything and connect with whoever is listening, adding, “I once heard Gladys sing the ABCs, and I thought I was in church.”

Knight was grateful to be receiving such a prestigious honor but was equally excited to see everyone come together and celebrate positivity for the evening.

Gladys Knight was happy to have everyone come together and celebrate people doing their best.

Gladys Knight was happy to have everyone come together and celebrate people doing their best.
(Jo Hale/Redferns)

“Look at all these people in here, and we’re all here for the same reason. To lift things up, to [try] to have some joy and all of that, and that’s what it’s all about,” Knight said. “This is amazing. This is about the world. This is not just about me or some other person that has feelings about making things better, but the fact that they even allow themselves to do something like that is amazing.”

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