Renowned Grammy-Nominated Singer Passes Away at 80

( – The Big Easy, home of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, blues, soul, and funk, became the crèche for many talented American musicians and singers. Jean Knight was born in New Orleans in 1943 as Jean Audrey Caliste, and the city’s independence, sass, heart, and rhythm informed her music with a unique edge and sensuality ahead of her time. The Grammy-nominated artist died in Tampa, Florida, on November 22, according to a post released on X, formerly Twitter, by the singer’s family.

Knight is likely best known for her 1971 song, “Mr. Big Stuff,” a sassy, funky track in which a woman taunts a man of means by asking, “Mr. Big Stuff, Who do you think you are?” The woman continues to take the man down a notch by telling him, “Mr. Big Stuff, You’re never gonna get my love.”

Her music and message struck a chord with listeners, and the single went double platinum, selling more than two million copies for Stax Records and earning her a 1972 Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. She lost to Aretha Franklin’s performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

A wife and mother who regularly attended church, Knight worked as a baker and cafeteria worker at St. Mary’s Dominican High School, an all-girls private prep school, to pay the bills. Singing was a side gig. Royalties from “Mr. Big Stuff” and a subsequent 1971 release, “You Think You’re Hot Stuff,” helped make her life more comfortable. Her next top 50 hit was “My Toot Toot,” released in 1985.

Knight was a Louisiana Music Commission board member and a longtime contributor to and performer in the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. In 2007, the New Orleans music community inducted her into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Her family referred to her “enduring love” of her hometown, fans, and music, all of which remained inextricably entwined in her life.

Knight leaves behind her son, Emile Commedore, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, according to The New York Times.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

Copyright 2023,