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Motown The Musical - Broadway

A new musical based on the life on Motown founder Berry Gordy.

Motown's Marva Hicks on Representing the 'Empress of Soul' Gladys Knight on Stage

Motown's Marva Hicks on Representing the 'Empress of Soul' Gladys Knight on Stage
Marva Hicks as Gladys Knight
Photo by Jenny Anderson
'I was happy to hear a voice of a famous woman that was deep, sort of like mine. '

Get ready, ‘cause here they come! Broadway.com is taking a deep dive into some of the musical icons who grace the stage in Motown: The Musical, which charts the life of Motown mogul Berry Gordy. Our  Legends of Motown series continues with Marva Hicks, who gets the honor of embodying her personal icon, Gladys Knight, a seven-time Grammy winner whose string of classic hits earned her an honored spot in Motown hall of fame.

Name: Marva Hicks

Hometown: Petersburg, VA

Role: Gladys Knight

First/fondest memory of your icon: My first memory of Gladys Knight and the Pips was seeing them on Soul Train. I loved her high ponytail, and her voice was like no other I had heard at that time. I was a young girl with a strong, low voice, and I was happy to hear a voice of a famous woman that was deep, sort of like mine. Up until then I thought all the popular voices were sopranos. I loved every note that came out of her mouth from the moment I first heard her voice.

Favorite song sung by your icon: This is a very difficult question. I love her voice, so I love anything she sings! But a classic favorite of mine is "With Every Beat of My Heart.”

What does it mean to you to be playing your icon? I am representing the "Empress of Soul" in Motown: The Musical. What?!!! It is still surreal to me to be in this show, singing one of the most recognized classic songs of her career. Talk about exciting! When the audience hears that intro, they know what's coming, and I get excited too.

Most surprising fact you learned about your icon: During my research, I read her book, Between Each Line of Pain and Glory, and discovered that as a child, she hated to rehearse and just wanted to be a kid. She started singing at four years old, so there was a lot required of her and she did not want the responsibility. Of course, later in her life she realized what a special gift she had been given.

Hardest thing about playing your icon: I only get to be her for a few minutes.

Easiest thing about playing your icon: I only have to be her for a few minutes.

Which of your icon’s songs do you sing in the show? "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."

If you could meet your icon, what would you say to her? I am in complete awe of your talent and I did my best to respect your class and dignity as an artist. Thank you for what you've given to me and to the world!

One word to describe your icon: STRONG!

Click here for more Legends of Motown profiles!

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