Patti LaBelle launches Gospel According to Patti LaBelle singing tour in the black gospel tradition. All proceeds of the CD go to cancer reserch, according to what Patti said to Naomi Judd in an interview. See video of Patti performing You Are My Friend and What a Friend We Have in Jesus below
Like many old-school R&B performers, Patti LaBelle, age 62, mentions God and prayer often. If you've paid attention, you've heard her speak of how her relationship with God helped her through the loss of her sisters to cancer, dealing with the loss of her close friend Luther Vandross, and taking charge of her life when challenged by diabetes. So, it's not surprising that she's gotten around to releasing her first gospel CD, "The Gospel According to Patti LaBelle."
Her website says that "Ms. LaBelle’s long awaited CD “The Gospel According to Patti LaBelle” is a testimony to the power of prayer and the effect that God has had on her life." With the release of the CD, Patti embarks on a Chrysler-sponsored promotional tour. The interesting aspect of this tour is that it will not be a tour of concert halls only. According to the project's website, her venues include the sanctuaries of mega-churches where she will perform with church choirs and sometimes have special guests, perhaps, like Yolanda Adams and CeCe Winans. The tour is billed as the "church tour."
Later in this article you may view video of Patti LaBelle singing one of her signature songs "You Are My Friend" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," on Fox at the Essence Awards in 2000. One reason Patti LaBelle is special to me, other than that I grew up hearing her, is that my mother is ill and watching Patti LaBelle concerts soothes her. I think it's because Patti emanates a loving spirit.
However, I am a big fan of her classics like "Over the Rainbow," and as a New Orleanian, how could I not enjoy "Lady Marmalade" made so popular by Patti with Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash in the group LaBelle? That song came out while I came of age in the Crescent City and was still playing in the discos when I ran the streets wild at 18.
If you don't remember or know little about the group LaBelle, then click this link to listen to the story on a BET clip behind the break-up of LaBelle and the beginning of Patti LaBelle's solo career as well as the story behind the song "You Are My Friend" that she wrote with the late James "Bud" Ellison. The late and legendary Luther VanDross is also in the BET clip.
In a recent interview with Cathy Hughes on TV One, Ms. Patti said her heart's no longer in performing "You Are My Friend" since the death of Bud Ellison. It's possible she may retire the song, which was written for her son Zuri, from her performance repetoire. However, "You Are My Friend" is included on her gospel CD. She also told Hughes that she's planning a tour and reunion of LaBelle with Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash. The three women worked together in the movie Preaching to the Choir, and Patti LaBelle says they have remained close friends despite artistic differences and residual bitterness following the group's break-up. Eartha Kitt and Ben Vereen also appear in the movie, which TV One broadcasted this month.
Check below the following video for concert dates for Philly and Newark.
No matter how you feel about religion, Patti LaBelle is sure to inspire millions through her gospel music project, and inspiring others is nothing new for the singer. For instance, the singer wrote a book with Laura Randolph called Patti's Pearls, offering bits of wisdom she's garnered from life experience. Not only does she have a physical singing gift, but her life and performances possess the spiritual power borne of pain and suffering. She's experienced tremendous losses in her life, but she's risen above them again and again.
And as she said in her TV One interview, she's been hurt and rejected, "dogged" badly over the years, sometimes by people who profess Jesus as savior. She recalled when Diane Sawyer began researching her life for a PrimeTime segment. Sawyer called the singer and said she'd talked to Patti's minister in Pennsylvania and he'd refused to discuss Patti. He said she sang "devil" music. She said you mean the same minister of the church where I send my checks every month? Yes, that was the one. "He dogged me so bad I started barking," said Patti.
Telling Cathy Hughes the story behind how she got the name LaBelle, she said that when she was young she went to audition for a white car dealer. He looked at her and said "You're too ugly to be a lead singer." Patti opened her mouth and sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" a capella after which the man was stunned. She then said to him, "You want to put a bag over my head now?"
The car dealer responded, "I think I have to call you la belle," which means "the beautiful one." Her given name is Patti Louise Holt, born in Philadelphia, Pa., May 24, 1944.
More video, Patti discusses her new gospel CD, diabetes, losing loved ones, and holding onto life with Naomi Judd. Ms. Patti said in this interview taped earlier this year that all proceeds from the sale of her gospel CD go to cancer research.