About Beverley Knight sings the songs of Stevie Wonder
Beverley Knight, MBE is an English recording artist and musical theatre actress who released her debut album, The B-Funk, in 1995. Heavily influenced by American soul music icons such as Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin, Knight has released eight studio albums to date. Widely labelled as one of Britain's greatest soul singers, Knight is best known for her hit singles "Greatest Day", "Get Up!", "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" and "Come as You Are".
In 2006 Knight solidified her transition into the mainstream by starring in the BBC music TV series Just the Two of Us, a role she reprised in 2007. After releasing a platinum-selling compilation album in 2006, Knight went on to tour the UK with a reformed Take That. She has also hosted four series of the BBC Radio 2 show Beverley's Gospel Nights, which explores the origins and impact of gospel music. To date the show has run for four seasons and has featured interviews with stars such as Michelle Williams and Shirley Caesar. Knight is an ambassador for many charities such as Christian Aid and has travelled to areas affected by disease and poverty to help raise awareness. She is an active campaigner for anti-Aids organisations such as the Stop AIDS Campaign and The Terrence Higgins Trust and is also a vocal campaigner against homophobic lyrics in urban music. On Saturday, 15 August 2009, she performed live at the fourth annual UK Black Pride event in Regent's Park. On Friday 4 December 2009, at the invitation of Sarah Brown, wife of the Prime Minister, Knight performed the two songs "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" and "Gold" to an invited audience at 10 Downing Street in support of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood Million Mums charity.
After more than a decade in the music industry, Knight was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2006 in recognition of her contribution to British music. In September 2005, Knight was made an honorary Doctor of Music by the University of Wolverhampton. After receiving a host of awards, including three MOBO Awards, Knight was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 at the Urban Music Awards in London. Knight supported Prince during his residency at the O2 Arena and ended up performing at his after party. As a result of this, she was also flown to perform at his Oscars party in front of A-list stars and got a standing ovation from stars such as Quincy Jones. Knight sang at the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony. The performance was unanimously praised and a recorded version by Knight reached #101 on iTunes, her first charting single since "Soul Survivor" and highest since "Beautiful Night" in 2010 and 2009 respectively.
In September 2013, Knight made her first foray into musical theatre, taking over the lead role of Rachel Marron from Heather Headley in The Bodyguard. On 21 February 2014, it was confirmed that Knight would take on the lead role of Felicia in the musical Memphis, opening on 23 October 2014. Beverly made her panto debut in 2017 at the Birmingham Hippodrome as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella.
In 2019, Knight celebrated 25 years in music with the release of the live album BK25 which was recorded with the Leo Green Orchestra.
Knight attended Woodfield Infant and Junior Schools and Highfields School in Wolverhampton. Knight was born to Jamaican parents, and she grew up in a strict Pentecostal household where church attendance was an important element in the life of the family. It is here where she began her singing career: "The first time I heard music would have been in church. My mum was often called upon: 'Come on sister Dolores. Lead us in song!' Singing was the most natural thing in the world. I thought, doesn't everybody's mum lead the congregation at church in song?" Knight continued singing in her local church throughout her childhood, and her musical education was continued at home where she was often exposed to gospel music. Due to her parents' religious beliefs, secular music was largely frowned upon, but artists such as Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin played a big part in her childhood.
Knight began writing her own songs at the age of 13. It was not until she turned 17, however, that she began to take her craft seriously. She began performing the songs she had written on stage in local clubs in her home town. At the age of 19 she performed on the demo songs of Wolverhampton songwriter Westley Jones, who was signed to Dome publishing in London. Peter Robinson the MD of the company, impressed with her vocals, got Westley Jones to introduce her. Peter Robinson and Jones — who had discovered Knight through demo recordings — also came up with the stage name of Beverley Knight as Peter had also signed another demo vocalist of Westley's from Birmingham, calling her Fiona Day. She was adamant that her education should come first and that she should have something to fall back on, and so went to Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education to study Religious Theology and Philosophy.
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