Gladys Knight plans to tour the country to talk about diabetes, the disease that has stalked the singer's family.

"Diabetes is very much hereditary. Just the fact it runs so rampantly in my family, I'm just ever so much more aware," said Knight, whose hits include "Midnight Train to Georgia."As the new national spokeswoman for the American Diabetes Foundation, Knight said she is planning speeches in cities from Tampa, Fla., to Phoenix and Pittsburgh. Foundation executives hope her tour will boost awareness of diabetes, which afflicts an estimated 16 million Americans.

Knight's mother and financial adviser, Elizabeth Knight, died in December of complications from diabetes. Her brother David also has the disease, as does cousin Edward Patten, one of the Pips backup singers.