Gladys Knight Receives Presidential National Medal of Art

by Xara Aziz
Credit: The White House
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Legendary singer and songwriter Gladys Knight is finally getting the flowers she deserves.

On Tuesday, the Midnight Train to Georgia star was one of several musical icons to receive a National Medal of Art from President Joe Biden.

The 78-year-old donned a pink suit, chic black cat-eye frames and a half-up, half-down hairstyle while making an appearance at the White House to accept the award. When her name was called, the entire room erupted in applause as she stepped up to the podium to receive one of the country’s highest honors.

“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 said. “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.”

The Atlanta native was recognized for “exceptional talent” that has “influenced musical genres” spanning over 50 decades. She rose to international appeal with several chart-topping hits, including That’s What Friends Are For and I Heard It Through the Grapevine.

Knight was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and in 2022, the artist, who has been considered one of the greatest singers of all time, was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the 45th Kennedy Center Honors.

“I’m humbled beyond words to be included amongst this prestigious group of individuals, both past and present,” she said when she accepted the award. “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 continued: “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.”

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