Marie Knight RIP
As noted in the news column here, Marie Knight died this past week.
Until fairly recently I’d only recognized her work in passing, as the partner for a time of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. I loved that music, but I had taken for granted Ms. Knight’s contribution – as happens far too often with the supporting crew on that great gospel train.
Her triumphant return to center stage with the release of Let Us Get Together in 2007 proved what a vital force had been denied due recognition . With the lithe and loving support Larry Campbell brings to every project lucky enough to carry his supporting byline and the knowing simplicity of the album’s dedicatee Rev. Gary Davis, Knight’s voice – aged to a craggy new eloquence – carved out 12 renewed gospel cornerstones I’d foolishly thought sufficiently mined. Death shaded the outline on many of these restored songs of experience, but just as surely joy, peace and a knowing grace lit up her heart-felt portrait of musical ministry.
I was lucky enough to catch Ms. Knight last year in Norfolk, opening for The Dixie Hummingbirds (especially haunting now, as it was one of that group’s first onstage ventures without the soon-to-be-lost Ira Tucker). Backed by a somewhat less insightful accompanist than Mr. Campbell, Marie Knight nonetheless radiated anew that spirit which carries the promise forward , even now in memory and recording – “As long as I live in this world – I Am The Light Of This World”.