What stays a legend most? R&B legend Glady Knight, 67, of course!
I was honored to chat with the six-time Grammy winner when she was in my hood (NYC) recently to play a show for National Train Day, benefiting a cause that moves with every beat of her heart: The Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Why? Read on to hear her explanation -- as well as her thoughts on her pal Mariah Carey's, uh, interesting newborn names and how she, a recovering gambling addict, still manages to go to work in a casino every day to play another Las Vegas residency at The Tropicana.
UsMagazine.com: Are you glad to be in New York for your benefit concert to promote National Train Day?
Glady Knight: I am. It's such an exciting city. My first really big gig was here at Madison Square Garden but I was seven years old.
Us: How did you get involved with the Boys and Girls Club of America and the train project?
GK: My mom, my siblings and I would all travel back and forth on the train when I was younger and I just fell in love with them. They are so relaxing, andit is almost like therapy for me, That was the reason why when we got that song with Jim Weatherly, "Midnight Plane to Houston," we called him and asked if it would be alright to say "Midnight Train to Georgia" because that's where I'm from I have known about The Boys and Girls Club for ages and for right now I'm just excited about being able to do my part. In our society today I want to take better care of our children. I haven't seen a better organization than the Boys and Girls Club.
Us: And you've also been a mentor on Idol, right?
GK: Yes I love that! I had so much fun doing that show! Being able to give them just an inkling of what I've learned over all these years just did good things for my heart. The talent is amazing and keeps on getting better and better.
Us: Have you been having time to watch this season at all?
GK: No, not much at all. In the very beginning when it first came on, but since I've been in production for this show at the Flamingo and being on tour right before that I haven't had a whole lot of time.
Us: I know you're busy working on the new album; do you know when that's out yet?
GK: We're hoping by the end of this month and no later than the first of next month, and I'm so excited!I'm glad to be able to still be out here!
Us: Is it true that Randy Jackson is producing the album? So did you meet him on Idol or how did that become to be?
GK: No. I've known Randy forever and he has an amazing ear, I'm extraordinarily happy to see him in the first judge's chair on Idol. He was in the saddles a little bit on the other ones and he used to make me mad because I knew the artists weren't getting a chance because of Simon Cowell being in the first chair. This is the best of Randy Jackson! But he is an amazing person and I'm excited about us getting to work together again in the future because we just feel each other. I'm really proud of this album. I'm proud of the work that my husband has done to keep my career moving in a certain direction. He's that guy behind the scenes.
Us: He's still your manager right?
GK: Yes, he is, its been ten years now! If it wasn't for my husband, I wouldn't be doing an album. And he knew a dream of mine was to have my name up on a theatre in Las Vegas, not for glory but for African Americans; it's never been done and they found out for people who nobody knew anything about.
Us: Is it difficult going to work in a casino when you have had gambling problems in the past?
GK: It actually does not! My main thing was having God on my side, and I have faith in Him and usually if I ask him for something he usually gives it to me if I am deserving of it. And I just prayed to him to take away the desire and I had courage enough to go and get help. I went to Gambler's Anonymous. When I lost all that money that night I just literally got physically ill, and I went and got some help.
Us: So being around that is not awkward or anything?
GK: It really isn’t. I can walk into a casino and see it for what it is, which is and is still a big part of my life. And that's for the entertainment that they share with the rest of the world that comes to that city. And I was more about that than I was about the gambling. But you know in life, we all go through changes; we mature, we fall short, we get up, we go on.
Us: How long are you playing at the Tropicana this time?
GK: We're going up to the end of the year, and then after that we will see what happens because they did want to close the showroom for remodeling, so even if we stay, we have to take a hiatus until they get the showroom up to where they want it to be.
Us: Mariah Carey just gave birth and I know she inducted you into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, What do you think about her new role as a mother?
GK: From the first time I met Mariah, she's always been a little introverted, so to speak. She's very shy but I think she'll be a great mom and I think Nick Cannon will be a great dad. They make a great couple to me and every couple has their ups and downs and hopefully they can make it work. I am really happy for her. I'm just so excited about their little family.
Us: Their names are kind of funny; Moroccan and Monroe.
GK: That is so cute! Moroccan and Monroe! I like that!
US: Your buddy Elton John also just had a baby, Have you met the baby yet? Are you happy about that?
GK: I have not. I just saw Elton when we did the twenty fifth anniversary of "That's What Friends Are For," and we had a great time. This world is just really a unique journey, and the decisions that we make in it will determine where we will go or end up. If you can find happiness and joy in the things that you are doing, so be it!