…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Me Too, Sister Knight

By Rex Goode


A review of
Gladys Knight’s Between Each Line of Pain and Glory
by Stephen Rex Goode 

I just finished the autobiography of the legendarily newest celebrity to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, singer Gladys Knight. It was really a treat for me. I am mostly grateful that it was thoroughly obvious that she had very little interference from ghostwriters and editors to write it the way she wanted to. I truly believe that an autobiography ought to sound like the subject rather than a professionalwriter.

I can forgive the frequent use of cliche’ when it is not written by someone who ought to know better. It can be annoying, but wasn’t in this book. I found it particularly interesting to find a work that was written by an upcoming convert to the Church prior to her joining the Church. Gladys takes us from her childhood through the present day in a writing style that reminds you of her songs. In fact, a reading of her discography as presented in the back of the book shows song titles filled with cliches, such as “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “Every Beat of My Heart,” and “Cloud Nine.” That’s the way popular music is, so it makes sense that she would write that way.

I was touched and somewhat angry at the racism she reported. I should not be surprised, but how quickly I’ve forgotten. It seems likes eons ago that there were segregated restrooms. I remember the attitudes of those bygone days. As a young boy, I could never understand why the adults in my life could be so compassionate and charitable unless they were talking about people with dark skin. I rejected those ideas then.

I found myself thinking, as I read of Gladys Knight’s experiences on the road, that it was much longer ago that such atrocities happened. I’m not that much younger than her and it seems like it was a part of history I could not have known. What struck me, however, was that she didn’t talk about those days with any detectable anger. She remarked about how she learned to “hold it” because restrooms that would allow a little black girl to use them were hard to find. She could have rightfully turned her autobiography into a scathing attack on the evils of racism, but she didn’t. I was impressed.

I was trying through my entire reading of it to envision the budding Mormon-to-be. It was an interesting exercise. Despite my efforts, I kept getting distracted from that task by just enjoying knowing about this very interesting woman.

I was certainly impressed by the lack of worldliness one so often reads in the autobiographies of performers. It’s not that she didn’t experience a lot of worldliness. She was an admitted gambling addict. She tells that story, leading up to when she called Gamblers Anonymous, then puts it behind her in the book as abruptly as she did in real life. Here is a woman of weaknesses that become strengths, but a quiet and matter-of-fact strength.

She speaks several times of her main ambition when she was young was to be a stay-at-home mom and take care of her family, certainly a traditional Mormon ideal, but like so many modern Mormon mothers, finds it difficult if not impossible to do.

One thing that struck me as amusing was her telling in Chapter 11 of a car accident that sounded like one of those Spirit-warning anecdotes from _The Ensign_.While on a trip, she and her travelling companions had prayed before leaving, something they had always done. At one point, they simultaneously began to feel an oppressive spirit that urged them to stop, so they stopped. They decided to pray again. When they resumed their trip, they discovered an accident that all were convinced they would have been involved in had they not heeded the prompting they received and stopped topray. She praises her Momma’s teachings and offers this insight:

A spiritual woman, Momma also taught us how to do a prayer chain and it became part of our regular routine just prior to performing. We would join hands and say a prayer backstage in order to use our gifts to carry out God’s wishes. Some of the less spiritual people we encountered on the road thought this odd but others who shared our churchgoing background–the Temptations and the O’Jays in particular–picked up on it too. I was once explaining to a reporter how much Jesus Christ was part of our lives and just before we went on camera, she stopped and said, “Do you mind not saying Jesus Christ on the air?”

“Yes I mind,” I said. “If I deny Him, he will deny me.” (page 167)

I don’t know the order of events regarding whether she joined the Church before splitting up with Les Brown. Her final chapter tells the tale of that part of her life. As she speaks of it, one wonders, based on her terminology if this final chapter was not written after her baptism.

I have many blessings to be thankful for as I write this… Though I may not see the infinite wisdom of it all right now, it will be revealed to me as all things are pertaining to the master plan that He has for each one of us. Until then, I’ll be still and know that He is with me even when things don’t turn out as I envisioned. I will continue striving to be an example for our Heavenly Father through my being, my music, and now, the spoken word. (p. 270)

Me too, Sister Knight. Me too.

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