JazzTimes - p.101
"[T]he splendor of BEFORE ME isn't about echoing great voices of the past, but in hearing a great contemporary voice reborn."
Personnel: Gladys Knight (vocals); Jeff Mironov, Anthony Wilson , Russell Malone (guitar); David "Fathead" Newman (tenor saxophone); Chris Botti (trumpet); Roy Hargrove (flugelhorn); Joe Sample, Billy Childs (piano); David Finck, John Clayton, Christoph Luty (bass guitar); Jeff Hamilton , Mark McLean (drums); Joe Porcaro (percussion); Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
To her considerable credit, Gladys Knight is forever seeking out fresh projects that push her in new stylistic directions. 2006's BEFORE ME is a case in point. The album features Knight performing a series of jazz standards as popularized by the likes of Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald, each of whom proved a formative influence on Knight in her early years.
Longtime fans of Knight may be surprised by her vocal approach here. In place of the earthy, textured soul attack for which she is best known is a comparatively reserved, sophisticated singing style that suits both the material and the legacy of her mentors. Versions of "God Bless the Child" and "Someone To Watch Over Me" are accomplished enough to bring new life to the songs, and to place Knight firmly in the tradition of the great female vocalists.