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Gladys Knight: "Blessed" To Know Michael

Singer Gladys Knight remembered her longtime friend Michael Jackson on The Early Show Friday.

Knight told Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith she's been "hanging in there" since she learned of Jackson's death.

Knight said knew Jackson as a boy. She said she heard him for the first time as they rehearsed for a talent show at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Ill. "I heard them before I saw them, and I jumped up and I said, 'Who is that?"' she remembered.

Knight said she got to know Jackson over the years; two even shared the same manager, Ron Weisner, at one point.

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"Michael was shy," she said, "And I don't know if we really recognized that in him all of his life. As he would accept awards, it wasn't about him being coy, it was about him being shy."

Knight said she is "blessed" to have known Jackson in "a different way."

"Seeing him in a room alone sitting in the dark and saying, what's the matter, Michael? Or sitting in the middle of the floor," she said. "...He was telling me the things that had happened or not happened in his life, like not going to baseball game as a young boy."

Knight said Jackson was always inquisitive. "It wasn't all about how you execute a note," she told Smith. "It was about, 'how do you live this life under the pressure and all of the things that we have to go through to make this happen?"'

Smith remarked that Jackson's magnetism on stage and the shyness off it was what transfixed many people about Jackson's life, and added that's why many people felt sorry for him.

Knight said it's "rightful" for people to feel that way.

"To whom much is given, much is required," she said. "And he had an enormous gift, and he also lived by that gift that you're given you,should use. And he used it to the utmost, to the best of his ability. He was phenomenal."

However, Knight acknowledged the other side of Jackson's controversial life.

"But on the other side of that coin, we forgot sometimes to understand what it takes in order to do that, trying to have a family, live a normal life, which is almost impossible with the iconic area that Michael was a part of."

Knight said she loved Jackson, and tried to provide a place for him to go when he needed it, especially when he was facing molestation charges.

"He needed some solace," she said. "He needed some other things that we as a group of people couldn't give him."

Knight added that she hopes his death won't be shrouded with sensationalism but that his memory will be celebrated.

"He lived every trial, he lived every wrong decision that he made," she said. "It's done. It's over. Now he needs his accolades for what he gave us, and how good he made us feel."

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