Have you ever experienced the feeling of being totally in the moment? Totally and completely present? Where your mind is living, just for a short time, right in the now? With no worries about the past, or fears of the future? This is the feeling that I had last night. I had bought tickets to go with my Mum to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall to watch Ms Gladys Knight, Empress of Soul. Wow! Just wow! She was INCREDIBLE. It was one of those life-affirming concerts, which leave you feeling so inspired, so warm, and so lucky.
Gladys Knight – Superstar
At the age of 72, Gladys Knight is the ultimate superstar. She sang a 1 hour 40 minute set with no interval, and she hit every note. Every single note! She didn’t even shy away from the big ones – she absolutely nailed it. She sang through all her classic hits: Midnight Train to Georgia, The Way We Were, Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me. She sang massive songs from her era, such as Heard It Through The Grapevine, and A Night To Remember. She reminisced, told stories, and shared lots of love.
Ms Knight is an incredibly spiritual woman, which came across in her performance. She has so much gratitude for the life she has led, and for the people that surround her. Her positivity was contagious, and she left me feeling so thankful and lucky. She spoke a lot about respecting the new talent that is emerging today. Speaking as a teacher, she said that she recognised how important it is for her to pass on what she has learnt, and to listen to and love the new music of today. She sang Sam Smith’s Stay With Me, a mashup of Hello by Lionel Richie and Hello by Adele, and a mashup of her own If I Were Your Woman with When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars. Her backing singers sang a medley tribute to Prince (joined at the end by Gladys for Purple Rain – unbelievable).
Ms Knight told a story that really rang true. She spoke about how she struggles with social media, and technology. She had received a text message from her sister, which was signed off with ‘LOL’. Gladys rang her sister to ask her what she meant. When she learnt that it meant ‘Laugh Out Loud’, she said: ‘But I want to hear you laugh! Pick up the phone, call me. It fills my heart to hear you laughing, so let me hear it.’
In a day of such fast-paced communications, this felt so simple and yet so magical. We are moving too fast to enjoy the small things, to enjoy the sound of laughter, and to take the time to just be present. I want to be more present, for my son, for my husband, for my family and for my friends.
The Power of Music
Listening to live music is like nothing else. It fills you up, it makes you feel safe and warm and happy, and it makes you truly listen. I listened to the words of the songs last night, as if hearing them for the first time. The love songs that Gladys sang made me feel like I wanted to love with all my heart. Because what else matters?
The Way We Were had us in tears, despite having heard that song a hundred times. You feel it so much more when someone is singing it directly to you. And to feel it is a great thing. Music has the power to lift us, to make us cry, to inspire us. Allowing it to wash over us, and to enjoy it for what it is, makes us human. The emotions that it induces are good for the soul, and good for our hearts.
Long live the power of live music – it is an experience like no other. Never turn down the opportunity to see a gig, watch a show, enjoy something live – it will make you present and make you love life as it is, even the hard bits.