In the tradition of Billie Holiday's Lady Sings the Blues and Tina Turner's I, Tina comes this thoughtful memoir from Knight, who, with her back-up group the Pips, enjoyed a string of hits (""I Heard It Through the Grapevine,"" etc.) in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Though lacking the trauma-inspired melodrama of the accounts by Holiday and Turner (Knight's mother was a member of Martin Luther King Sr.'s Atlanta congregation, and her family was solidly middle-class for much of her childhood), the book nevertheless chronicles a good deal of tribulation, including teenage pregnancy, attempted rape, various addictions and failed marriages. Yet it is also a story of hard work, realized dreams and the ironies of success. Pop music fans will be intrigued by the steady stream of famed figures through the book, including Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin, with whom Knight has experienced a-not-so-friendly rivalry. Knight's description of her years as a child star on the eve of the civil rights movement resonates with the history of the period, and her recreation of Motown culture is engaging, if somewhat familiar. The singer's life since the 1980s has been less compelling. Her account of her marriage to her third husband, motivational speaker Les Brown--who served her with divorce papers as the manuscript was being completed--gives the end of the book an uncertain, unfinished quality. But Knight's plain-spoken ambivalence about family vs. career, and about the basic challenges that confront even the most successful entertainers (especially women), make this a valuable document of a life in show business. Author tour. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997 Release date: 10/01/1997 Genre: Nonfiction
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