The legendary singer with the voice that can lift the roof has been entertaining us for decades with a career that spans Broadway, film and television.
Imagine being dismissive of the otherworldly talent that is Patti LaBelle. Not just dismissive but dismissive walking out of the room. That’s what happened when the man conducting her first record label audition said young Patti was “too simple” to cope with a group of singers. So he left. And then she unleashed her soprano swell. Not only did he boomerang back into the room, but he signed LaBelle and his fellow band members, collectively as the Blue Belles, on the spot.
This is the serendipitous story of how Patti LaBelle became Patti LaBelle, but we know how it happened over the decades she gave us as a soul matriarch. Over millions of records sold worldwide. Two Grammys and induction into his Hall of Fame. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. An acting career that spans Broadway, film and television. There is nothing obvious about her, it never was.
For some people, she’s a fun, shoe-loving, soul-food-slanging aunt; others admire her as the ultimate high-pitched diva, but the bottom line is that she has so much to appreciate and adore. Just listen to her interpretations of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “You Are My Friend” to understand why she is not a music icon; She is the music icon.
Janelle Harris Dixon is a writer, journalist, and editor in Southeast Washington, DC, with a particular love for covering stories at the intersection of race, gender, class, and culture.
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