Jean Knight (born Jean Caliste, January 26, 1943) is an American soul, R&B and funk singer, best known for her 1971 Stax Records hit single, “Mr. Big Stuff”.
The song was recorded in 1970 at Malaco Studio in Jackson, Mississippi at the same session as “Groove Me” by King Floyd. Knight’s single was released by Stax Records because of the persistence of Stax publisher Tim Whitsett, and “Groove Me” by King Floyd, which Whitsett strongly urged Malaco to release, also became a hit. Both songs are defined by two bar, off-beat bass lines and tight arrangements by Wardell Quezergue.
Released on Knight’s 1971 debut album of the same title, it became a huge crossover hit. The song spent five weeks at no. 1 on the Billboard Soul Singles chart and peaked at no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, behind “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” by The Bee Gees. Billboard ranked it as the No. 18 song for 1971. The song went double platinum and the no. 1 Soul Single of the year.
Knight performed the song on Soul Train on December 11, 1971 during its first season. “Mr. Big Stuff” became one of Stax Records’ more popular and recognizable hits. It was featured in the 2007 mini-series The Bronx Is Burning. It was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 1972 Grammy Awards.