Gladys Knight plans to please her SA fans

Gugu Sibiya

Gugu Sibiya

The sultry lady of jazz and soul, the evergreen Gladys Knight, pictured, is headed for our shores in two weeks' time.

After years of anticipating her visit to the country, Knight will perform at the Coca-Cola Dome on October 26, the Superbowl in Sun City on October 27, the ICC Arena in Durban on October 28 and The Grand Arena at the Grand West in Cape Town on October 30, 31.

Animatedly, she says: "I am so excited about coming to South Africa. Do you know how many years I have waited?

"We were invited in the 60s but could not come because we have always tried to stay on top of whatever is going on in the world. Back then the system of apartheid was still in place. We did not know what to do so we called our embassy and the ANC who clarified things for us, explaining about apartheid," she states, referring to the 70s invitation to perform in Botswana and Sun City.

She says she cancelled the shows because the promoters had not told her the whole truth about South Africa.

On her popularity in SA, Knight says: "I have never been to South Africa but I have heard from people who have been here how popular I am in this country. I have heard even from South Africans I have bumped into all over the world. They all insist that I must come to Africa!

"Right now my concern is that everybody should have fun and enjoy themselves at the show," she says.

On the repertoire her fans can expect, Knight says she has been doing music for so long she is not sure which tunes will turn local crowds inside out.

"All I know is that in the mix, there is definitely going to be Midnight Train To Georgia," she says, referring to her 70s mega hit.

Her latest release Just For You, a jazz offering, is turning jazz lovers inside out. "Although it did well this side, it has yet to live up to our expectations.

"Jazz is in fact where I started out. I felt that I should go back to my roots where I did some wonderful things.

"Just For You pays tribute to great and elegant ladies like Billy Holiday, Lena Horn and Ella Fitzgerald. I really loved those ladies. I was thrilled when I was presented with the Ella Award. It was an honour. Ella was my favourite singer and a great lady."

Knight says her longevity in showbiz is not by coincidence. "It has got a lot to do with the fact that I am a people's person."

Knight says she will spend two weeks in SA. "We will celebrate my husband's birthday on October 28. We will probably go on a safari."