In its 170 years of performing, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has toured the world, sung at presidential inaugurations, and inspired millions through their weekly broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word—the world’s longest continuously running weekly network broadcast. On top of that, the choir has also hosted dozens of famous people at its annual Christmas concert over the years, from actors and singers to journalists and even the Muppets® from Sesame Street®. Here is what some of these famous guests had to say about their experience performing with “America’s Choir.”
1. Gladys Knight (2000)
Photo by Stuart Johnson, courtesy of Deseret News
Legendary musician Gladys Knight, also known as the “Empress of Soul,” made her Mormon Tabernacle Choir debut at their 2000 Christmas concert. Knight, who started out in a group with her brother and cousins called the Pips, won her first Grammy in 1973.
After her son and daughter were baptized members of the Church, Knight began attending Relief Society and eventually joined the Church in 1997. She told LDS Living, “When the missionaries came to my house, we had the most beautiful prayer. I loved the fact that when they came in they did not try to sell me on the Church—they just told me about the gospel.”
In 2002, Knight’s desire to add “a little something” to Church music eventually inspired her to create the Saints Unified Voices—an all-volunteer, multicultural LDS choir that would bring a new level of energy and cultural awareness to traditional hymns. Their first album, One Voice, won a 2005 Grammy Award for Best Gospel Choir or Chorus Album.
Knight, who has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, told the Deseret News about her first time hearing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in her high school music class. “[My teacher] said, ‘Now this is harmony, this is pitch, this is the epitome of what a choir should sound like,’ and he played the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.” She continued, “I just fell in love with them. To this day, I am a lover of harmony. That started it for me.” After performing with the choir in 2000, she recalled, “When I stood in front of them to sing, that blew my mind. It took me back all the way to high school. I just love their music.”
Don't miss the newest Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert DVD, O Come, Little Children, featuring Rolondo Villazon and the story of The Little Match Girl! O Come, Little Children features classic Christmas songs beloved by children and adults everywhere. Performed by the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir, accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square, and featuring the singularly beautiful voice of acclaimed tenor Rolondo Villazon, this album takes the listener on a joyful journey through timeless classics that celebrate the season. This album will whisk you away to once again see the childlike wonder of Christmas.
Or. for more famous artists who have performed with the choir, check out Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends. For this album, the Choir has assembled an unprecedented collection of recordings taken from standout performances over the past 15 years. Most of these performances were recorded live at the 20,000+ seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City. In addition, some real gems were uncovered or created specifically for this album, including a performance recorded live before millions of viewers at the start of the 2002 Winter Olympics (Sting & Yo-Yo Ma performing "Fragile") and new recordings such as Amy Grant's "Thy Word," The King's Singers' "I'm Running On," and Santino Fontana's "He Lives in You."