Please click here to download a photo of Gladys Knight
INDIANAPOLIS (May 20, 2012) – The 500 Festival announced today that eight-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight will serve as legendary honoree and will ride in the 2012 IPL 500 Festival Parade. The 55th IPL 500 Festival Parade is Saturday, May 26 and will celebrate the 2012 500 Festival theme: A New REVolution. In addition to participating in the Parade, Knight will be an honorary guest at the Regions 500 Festival Snakepit Ball, presented by Cindy and Paul Skjodt.
Knight will also attend the Indy 500 Soiree presented by Lucas Oil Friday, May 25th and the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 Sunday, May 27. She’ll walk the red carpet just prior to settling in to enjoy her first Indy 500. Each year, the 500 Festival challenges itself to make its events even bigger and better than the last. Through coordination with INDYCAR Entertainment, the Festival is thrilled to have secured such a high-profile talent.
“I am so excited,” said Knight. “This is my first time at the Indy 500. Even when I drive I’ve got a need for speed. I am honored that they asked me to take part in it.”
Gladys Knight has enjoyed number one hits in pop, R&B and Adult Contemporary, and has triumphed in film, television and live performance. Georgia-born, Gladys began performing recitals at age four in the Mount Mariah Baptist Church. Three years later, in 1952, she won the grand prize on television’s Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour and the following year, she, along with her brother Bubba, and her cousins formed The Pips. They had their first hit in 1961. In 1962, the group was renamed Gladys Knight & The Pips. With Gladys singing lead and The Pips providing lush harmonies and graceful choreography, the group went on to achieve an iconic status, having recorded some of the most memorable songs of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Top 20 hits, like “Every Beat of My Heart,” “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” and “If I Were Your Woman,” set the stage for an amazing run in the mid-1970s, with Top 10 gold-certified singles like “Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye),” “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination,” “Best Thing to Ever Happen to Me” and the #1 smash “Midnight Train to Georgia” established Gladys Knight and The Pips as the premiere pop/R&B vocal ensemble in the world. All told, Gladys has recorded more than 38 albums over the years, including four solo albums during the past decade. This spring, she will release her newest album featuring the hit “I Who Have Nothing.” Most recently, she appeared in the Tyler Perry film I Can Do Bad All by Myself and was a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
More than 300,000 spectators are expected to line the two-mile parade route to see the 33 starting drivers of the 2012 Indianapolis 500®, more than 80 specialty units, floats, marching bands and giant inflatable balloons. This year’s parade is a true representation of the power and pageantry of the month of May. Knight’s participation brings added star quality to the weekend’s festivities and serves as a bridge between INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and mainstream audiences around the world. The parade will air nationally on May 26 at 5 p.m. on NBC Sports Network and 8 p.m. locally on WISH-TV. Tickets to the IPL 500 Festival Parade are available at the 500 Festival Ticket Office weekdays from 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased by calling (317) 614-6400. Reserved bleacher seats are $14.50; reserved chair seats $19 and reserved VIP/TV Zone seats are $32. For more information, visit www.500festival.com.
The mission of the 500 Festival is to advocate and celebrate the spirit, heritage and legacy of the Indianapolis 500®. Through social, cultural and educational events and programs, the 500 Festival enhances the quality of life for all citizens of our communities.
The 500 Festival, a not-for-profit volunteer organization, was created in 1957 to organize civic events celebrating the greatest race in the world. Over the past 55 years, the 500 Festival has grown to become one of the largest festivals in the nation.
Last year, over 500,000 Hoosiers and visitors participated in nearly 50 events and programs throughout the month of May. Whether they were athletes running the Mini-Marathon, fourth grade students participating in the Education Program, families enjoying the state’s largest festival for kids or spectators being dazzled by one of the nation’s premier parades, they were there, celebrating the legacy.