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Gladys Knight is 67, but she has kept up a schedule that could frighten a 20-year-old as she’s trained for “Dancing With the Stars.”  It’s been four or five hours of dance rehearsal in the morning, performing a concert at night, travel by plane or bus the next day, rehearsal, concert, travel, repeat.

The proud grandmother of 17 — and great grandma of four, with one on the way – is one of three 50+ competitors on this season’s “DWTS,” along with Martina Navratilova and soap star Jack Wagner.  She laughed with delight when told that Martina had singled her out as competition to keep an eye on, based on Gladys’ musicality.

“Oh, really?!  Well, Martina’s my girl,” said the Empress of Soul.

You’re not going to find any backstage back-biting between these two:

According to tennis buff Gladys, their friendship goes back to 1995, when she provided entertainment for the Virginia Slims Legends Tour of women tennis greats.  “They would play during the day, and then we would sing at night and they would come to the concert and we’d do a little finale together.  It was really fun.”

Although Gladys Knight and the Pips fans remember plenty of choreography in their shows back in the day, Gladys says that doesn’t give her an edge now.  According to her, it was the Pips’ job to dance.  She was supposed to strut.

As for where she gets her energy, Gladys says she tries to eat right and stay in shape.  Then, too, she has a 13 years younger husband cheering her on.  After three earlier marriages, she makes it clear she got it right with William McDowell, her spouse since 2001.  “My husband is so supportive.  You know this takes a lot of time and I’m dead tired when I get home, and he is so wonderful — my William is just the best.”

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