Grammy-Nominated Singer Dies at 80

Grammy-Nominated Singer Dies at 80

( – Millions visit New Orleans, a city entrenched in culture, each year to bask in the food, atmosphere, and music. Many notable musicians got their start in The Big Easy and went on to make an impact on the world. Jean Knight counted among them, a soulful singer known for her crooning voice and continued involvement in the industry. Sadly, she recently passed away.

On Monday, November 27, Mona Giamanco, a family representative, confirmed to The Associated Press that Knight had passed away the previous Wednesday from natural causes in Tampa, Florida. She was 80 years old.

Knight had been a musical icon for several decades by that point. She got her start in music by singing in her cousin’s New Orleans bar after she graduated from high school. Born Jean Audrey Caliste, Knight pursued a professional singing career in 1965. Her recording of Jackie Wilson’s “Doggin’ Around” as a demo landed her a contract with a record label.

The crooner’s most notable hit came in the early 1970s with “Mr. Big Stuff,” where she challenged the idea of marrying rich in favor of choosing love, even with a poor man. The song went to the top slot on Billboard’s R&B charts and reached number two on the Billboard 200 pop chart. Knight received an Emmy nomination in 1972 for this song.

Knight continued to record music in the decades after, and while she had other hits such as “My Toot Toot,” they never reached the national acclaim of her top billing. The singer spent years touring locally, becoming ingrained in the local culture, even recording a song written by Allen Toussaint. Yet, she became a licensed practical nurse to pay the bills, having graduated from school in the 1980s, using royalties to supplement her finances.

Her son, Emile Commedore, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren survive the singer.

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