“Tonight is all about love!” proclaimed the Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight herself, as she and the O’Jays gave the crowd an amazing night out at Wolf Trap on Saturday, August 22, 2015. And indeed it was: love from the audience for these Soul greats, love from them for the (extraordinarily supportive) audience, and love from everyone for the wonderful music.
Gladys Knight, of Gladys Knight and the Pips, is known for the multitude of no. 1 R&B hits she and her group had over the years, resulting in the induction of her and the Pips into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. After the breakup of the group, Knight’s solo career has prospered, as she has ventured into the gospel and jazz genres, winning her a Grammy Award and multiple other accolades.
The O’Jays, made up of Walter Williams, Eddie Levert, and Eric Nolan Grant, were emblematic of the “sound of Philadelphia,” had numerous chart-topping R&B hits that got them inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. With such pedigreed performers in store, how could the concert fail to be an amazing night?
Gladys Knight opened the show, entering to a resounding wave of applause and a standing ovation from the audience. As she waved hello to the excited crowd with a giant smile, her ease and comfort with the audience was clear—and then, she opened her mouth and began to sing. As she sang hits like “Love Overboard,” “I Don’t Wanna Do Wrong,” and “The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,” her earthy, sultry voice and sassy dancing showed the crowd that she most definitely still has it. In her cover of Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were,” she showed off her incredible control and skill as she belted her way through her own, unique interpretation of the standard, and held those high notes clearly and beautifully.
And of course, with popular tunes like “Heard It Through the Grapevine” and of course, “Midnight Train to Georgia,” Knight had the audience on their feet dancing and jamming right along with her. And as a special treat, she brought out her brother Bubba Knight (introducing him as “a Pip!”) who enthralled the crowd with his hilarious cover of “Uptown Funk.” Knight still deserves her title of the ‘Empress of Soul’, not only because of her beautiful voice but also because of her charisma and warmth in engaging with the audience.
After intermission, the concert continued with the O’Jays. With their fantastic vocal harmonies (including Levert’s signature raspy croon) and great range, they had the audience in the palm of their hands, especially once they started dancing. As they sang some of their greatest hits (including “Back Stabbers,” “Living for the Weekend,” “Let Me Make Love to You,” and “Stairway to Heaven”), the audience was literally dancing in the aisles, singing and dancing along.
Between the thrill of seeing Gladys Knight live and dancing in the aisles to the sound of the O’Jays, it was definitely a party—for those both off and on stage!
Running Time: Two and a half hours with a 20 minute intermission.
Gladys Knight and the O’Jays played for one night only on Saturday, August 22, 2015 at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts– 1635 Trap Road, Vienna, VA. To see a list of upcoming events at Wolf Trap and purchase tickets, click here.