Legendary soul singer Gladys Knight is widely known for her incredible vocals and tremendous stage presence. The Grammy winner became a mom of three while balancing her music career. She welcomed late son James “Jimmy” Gaston Newman III and Kenya Newman with ex-husband James “Jimmy” Newman, and Shanga Ali Hankerson with ex-husband Barry Hankerson. Keep scrolling to learn more about Gladys’ three kids. 

Who Was Gladys Knight’s Eldest Son James “Jimmy” Gaston Newman III?

Gladys married her first husband, James, in 1960. They welcomed their son, James III, two years later. Their marriage lasted until 1973. The “Midnight Train to Georgia” singer took time away from her successful family music group, Gladys Knight & The Pips, to raise her son. 

After returning to the spotlight when James III was a toddler, she grew a special bond with her firstborn. He later became his mother’s manager at the height of her fame through his company, Newman Management. In 1999, he helped Gladys launch a record label called Many Roads. 

Gladys Knight's Kids: Details About Her Family Life
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James III died in his Las Vegas home on July 10, 1999. His cause of death was heart failure, according to Variety. He is survived by his wife, Michelene, two daughters and three sons. Before her son’s death, Gladys credited him and Kenya for encouraging her to join the Church of Latter-Day Saints. 

“My son Jimmy and his wife were the first to join the Church after his best friend shared his testimony,” she told LDS Living in June 2016. “Then my daughter, Kenya, joined the Church. I watched their lives grow, and to see how my grandchildren were being raised and what they knew really impressed me.”

Who Is Gladys’ Daughter Kenya Maria Newman?

Gladys welcomed her daughter, Kenya, with James in 1963. She attended Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas and married her husband, Jimmy Jackson, a few years later. After pursuing a career in marketing, she decided it was time to follow her true passion: baking. 

In 1997, Kenya became a business owner, opening up Kenya’s Cakes of the Stars at Sunset Station, according to the Las Vegas Sun. Though her mom is one of the most famous singers in the world, Kenya has lived her life out of the spotlight for the most part. 

Who Is Gladys’ Youngest Son Shanga Ali Hankerson?

In 1974, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee married Barry, a record producer. Their son, Shanga, was born in 1976. In his adulthood, Shanga opened up three chain restaurants in Atlanta called Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles. In 2021, he was sentenced to two years in federal prison for “failure to remit payroll taxes,” per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.