When you think of soul music, you can’t help but think of Patti Labelle. The 71-year-old songstress has been singing professionally for over half a century. She is a member of the Grammy Hall of Fame and has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In addition to having a successful music career she has enjoyed a fruitful film and television career, making guest appearances on twenty shows including a reoccurring role on, A Different World and a recent stint on the breakaway hit television show, Empire.
On Sunday, September 20, Pattie Labelle will take the stage at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, in a show presented by The Oregon Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Labelle will be singing many of her biggest hits, which may include: If you Only Knew, If You Asked Me To and the song that defined disco music, Lady Marmalade. The concert is part of a multi city tour.
Ms. Labelle, whose real name is Patricia Louise Holte-Edwards began her singing career when she was still in her teens. She formed a doo-wop group with her friends called the Blue Belles. They were eventually sued, because another group was already using the name. They changed their name to Patti Labelle and the Bluebells and finally, simply to, Labelle.
The aspiring star sang with the Bluebells for fifteen years. They had their first hit with the soul tune, I Sold My Heart to the Junkman. The group went on have two hit records and toured all over the country.
Unlike so many girl groups, LaBelle stayed relevant by keeping up with the times. They changed from soul and rock and roll in the early 1960s to disco in the 1970s. The ladies often wore flamboyant outfits on stage and made dramatic entrances, including flying onto the stage. Labelle was considered a groundbreaking act, because they were the first female African American group to land on the cover of the Rolling Stone in 1975 before they broke up in 1977.
Ms. Labelle released her first solo album in 1984, which included the hit single, New Attitude. The song topped the charts and won Ms. Labelle a following with the younger generation. She went on to perform with several top artists, including Mariah Carey and Michael Bolton. Her new found solo career led to eleven Grammy nominations and two wins for her performance of the song Burnin’ and the album, Live! One Night Only.
Her popularity soon led to acting roles on film and television. She appeared in the critically acclaimed A Soldier’s Story and starred as Dwayne Wayne’s mother on the Cosby spin off A Different World.
She has not slowed down at all in her senior years. She has performed for President Obama an appeared on Broadway in the play Fela! Which detailed the persecution of the Nigerian composer Fela Kuti by his own government. She performed for President Obama and competed on Dancing with the Stars.
Where most stars of her caliber live in New York or Hollywood Ms. Labelle still resides in her home state of Pennsylvania. In addition to all of her other talents she is also a very enterprising business woman. She has her own line of barbeque sauce, marinades and cookbooks that she sells on her website. If you are not much of a cook you can still benefit from Ms. Labelle’s wisdom by purchasing one of her books of inspirational thoughts.
Ms. Labelle goes on stage at 7:30 p.m. on September 20, the symphony will not be performing that evening. Tickets to the show start at $45.00 and are disappearing quickly.
Eliza Gale – PortlandMetroLive.com Contributor
Eliza Gale began her blogging career interviewing aspiring actors and industry professionals on a Los Angeles based website called Curvewire. She started www.elizagalesintervviews in 2012 and has interviewed over three hundred people about their jobs and businesses since then. She has contributed many interviews to 360drinks.com, which is a Portland based happy-hour website. She also writes for Examiner.com and AXS.com.