Tharpe recognized "something special" in Marie's contralto voice. Knight continued to record and perform with Tharpe through the 1940s, sometimes acting out the parts of "the Saint and the Sinner", with Tharpe as the saint and Knight as the sinner. Among their successes were the songs "Beams of Heaven", "Didn't it Rain", and "Up Above My Head", recorded for Decca Records. "Up Above My Head", credited jointly to both singers, reached No.
6 on the US R&B chart at the end of 1948, and Knight's solo version of "Gospel Train" reached No. 9 on the R&B chart in 1949. She left Tharpe to go solo around 1951, and put together a backing group, The Millionaires (Thomasina Stewart, Eleonore King and Roberta Jones), with whom she recorded the 1956 album Songs of the Gospel. She also began recording secular R&B music in the late 1950s, for various labels including Decca, Mercury, Baton, Okeh, Diamond and Addit. Her duet with Rex Garvin, credited as Marie & Rex, "I Can't Sit Down" released on the Carlton label, reached No.
94 on the pop chart in 1959. In the late 1950s she also toured Britain as a guest of Humphrey Lyttelton. In 1961 she recorded the single "Come Tomorrow", which was later a hit for Manfred Mann. Knight's version of "Cry Me a River" reached No.
35 on the U.S. Billboard R&B charts in 1965. She toured with Brook Benton, the Drifters, and Clyde McPhatter, and regularly reunited onstage with Rosetta Tharpe. She remained friends with Tharpe, and helped arrange her funeral in 1973.
In 1975, having given up performing secular music, she recorded another gospel album, Marie Knight: Today. In 2002, Knight made a comeback in the gospel world, recording for a tribute album to Tharpe. She also released a full-length album, Let Us Get Together, on her manager's label in 2007. She died in Harlem of complications from pneumonia, on August 30, 2009. Marie Knight's vocal talents were recognized early on. When she was five years old, Marie—who was born in Sanford, Florida, but raised in Newark, New Jersey—sang the gospel number "Doing All the Good We Can" at her parents' church, where the congregants marveled at her poise.
A member of the youth choir, she was soon elevated to soloist and taught herself to play piano. "I used to go to the church in the daytime and just hit one note at a time, to hear that sound," she recalled. "It was a joy to me, to put those notes together on the piano, just one key at a time." That joy soon became a professional calling for Marie, who by her early twenties had gained experience touring the national gospel circuit with evangelist Frances Robinson; she even recorded a few early sides with the quartet The Sunset Four. In 1946, she met Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the nationally famous gospel singer-guitarist, who recognized something special in Marie's compelling contralto and her elegant stage presence.
The two became gospel's preeminent duo of the 1940s, recording hits for Decca Records, including "Didn't It Rain," "Up Above My Head," and the gorgeous "Beams of Heaven." By the late 1940s, Marie and Rosetta had split to pursue separate musical projects—Marie to do solo gospel work on Decca. The two women reunited frequently on stage during the 1950s, however. In addition to singing before thousands of gospel fans in Washington, DC in 1950, and touring with up-and-coming gospel vocalist Wynona Carr in 1954, Marie and Rosetta impressed the critics with their sophisticated performances at top New York City jazz clubs in 1955. In the 1960s, Marie cultivated a rhythm-and-blues career, touring with the likes of Brooke Benton, the Drifters, and Clyde McPhatter.
After a hiatus, she re-emerged in the mid-1970s to record gospel music; today, Marie Knight is a minister at Gates of Prayer Church in New York, founded by the late Dolly Lewis. In January 2002, on a cold, bright Saturday morning, Marie entered a recording studio to pay tribute to her old singing partner, Rosetta Tharpe, doing a solo version of their old hit "Didn't It Rain." [Listen the fruits of that session on Shout, Sister, Shout! (MC-0050).] That session—and Marie's continuing vitality as a singer and performer—led to her present collaboration with producer Mark Carpentieri. Her voice has changed since the earliest days of youth recitals in Newark, but Marie Knight's gift—the one recognized early on by her church—remains undiminished by time. Let Us get Together is a delight from start to finish San Diego Union Tribune "she's an outstanding singer and the material is a perfect fit. The songs of Reverend Davis are as vibrant now as they were when he was alive. Dick Waterman Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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