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LaBelle, the legendary R&B diva, speaks out

In 1962 teenager Patricia Louise Holt took on the name Patti LaBelle, and with a group of friends launched her recording career with the Christmas album, Sleigh Belles, Jingle Belles, and Bluebelles.

Four and a half decades later, the R&B diva is still in the game, turning out a Christmas album, Miss Patti's Christmas (her second solo yuletide release), and planning to take the stage in 2008 on tours with several other artists.

At 63, she says she doesn't want to have anybody in the wings waiting to take her place.

But even with, two Grammies and 35 BillboardTop 100 hits (a dozen of which reached the top 10 list), LaBelle still labours with a sense that she has not achieved that much musically.

Blaming racism in the music industry, LaBelle says the biggest difficulty of her career has been seeing Celine Dion zoom up the record charts with the same song for which she could not get sales.

At the 2007 World Music Awards in Monaco, LaBelle looked on as Dion, whom she describes as a friend, received the Legend Award for her contribution to music from Prince Albert II. The award paid tribute to Dion's 200 million in record sales, helped along by
Monaco Patti LaBelle arrives in style in Monte Carlo
Photo: © Edward Wright of
the 1992 hit "If You Asked Me To", which peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

LaBelle, who was also honoured at the Monte Carlo event with a Legend Award for her contribution to R&B, recorded "If You Asked Me To" in 1989, but saw it climb no higher than 79 on the Hot 100 chart.

“...people pay more respect to white artists who sing well before they do black women,” LaBelle said in a phone interview. “I've been singing for 45 years and that's an obstacle that I'm still..I'm getting over it because I'm fabulous. You know, so you can't beat me up. You can't make me feel less than I am because whenever I get the microphone I'm gonna show you who I am.”

Describing the entertainment industry as “very racist” the 63-year-old Grammy winner says she doesn't look for very much. LaBelle is expected to go on tour in 2008 with various artists, including Dionne Warrick, Gladys Knight and Lenny Kravitz.

But she has turned to commercial projects outside the music industry. In October 2007, she launched a hot sauce and kitchen accessories line called Patti LaBelle: The Good Life. Already a bestselling cookbook author, she has written another cooking tome, along with a DVD, and she has a wig line called Patti LaBelle's Fabulous Hair. “So I have a lot on my plate and I am so blessed. So I don't get angry any more,” LaBelle said.

Read the full Patti Labelle interview in the Summer 2008 printed version of Monaco Revue.

If you are not in the Riviera, or would like a copy sent to you:

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Comments to date: 12. Page 1 of 2.

JR,,  Pa

Posted at 3:15pm on Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Miss Patti you truly are the greatest talent on the face of the earth when you sing. I just believe ppl don't know what to do when those notes come out of you, and or what type of category to place you. Im my book there is no one that comes before Ms. Labelle in the areana of music

Ms. Peaches & Cream,  St. Louis, MO

Posted at 8:03pm on Friday, January 16th, 2009

I've been a fan of Ms. Patti's for years. I've watched her on talkshow, in interviews and on stage; I've watched her career for yrs. If Patti says it, then you can believe it! It's like she has said for many years; people will try to hold you back if you don't do things the way they feel things s... read more »

tony childs,  phila pa

Posted at 9:23pm on Friday, August 29th, 2008

patti and mary j phyllishyman my most favorite singers ever these singersrapper of today motivation is primarily about money not all but more than some artist music today is 75% or more about money patti just like so many other singer in the 60s came up at a time where if u didnt have that raw talen... read more »

Abby,  Canada

Posted at 8:19am on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Well it just goes to show you that you can't judge a book by it's cover! Just because Pink has her own style and different color hair does not mean anything! She is absolutely amazing and a great artist!


Posted at 1:04am on Monday, December 24th, 2007

The EMPRESS OF SOUL, Gladys Knight, The Soul of Philadelphia Patti Labelle and The Classic Dionne Warwick back together again. It's been too long. It will be simply glorious.

Decla,  Philadelphia,

Posted at 11:57am on Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Patti proves 63 is the new 40. You go girl!

Mr President-convert,  North Dakota

Posted at 4:14pm on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

I've never listened to Pink before (didn't like her name and she looks like a punk -- not my style), but since Patti called her a true artist, I gave her a try today. And yeah, she's gets my vote.

soul sister,  New York

Posted at 3:32pm on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Patti is right. What the general public fails to see, but Patti must know having been in this these four decades, is music is a business involving product development, distribution and marketing. African Americans have the talent, but they don't control the other arms of the industry. If the industr... read more »

Music fan,  Boston, MA

Posted at 1:35pm on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Came expecting scratching and clawing after seeing a newspaper headline "Diva vs Diva". Very disappointed.

Celine fan,  Toronto, Canada

Posted at 8:15am on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Wonder what Celine will make of this and if they'll still be friends.



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