Patti LaBelle is 70, tomorrow

pattilabelle_fullPatti LaBelle was born Patricia Holt, in Philadelphia. She formed a group the Blue-Belles, with Nona Hendryx, Sarah Dash, and Cindy Birdsong. The group had a Top Twenty single, “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman”, but it was actually sung by another group. (Most confusing.)

The redubbed Patti LaBelle and her Blue Belles had some minor hits; LISTEN to Down the Aisle (The Wedding Song) and You’ll Never Walk Alone. But then Cindy Birdsong left the group to replace Florence Ballard in The Supremes. They ended up musically adrift and got dropped by their record label.

The trio got a new record label, and changed its name to Labelle, with songs that “mixed harder-edged soul music with rock music elements”, to limited success. They had more luck singing with the late Laura Nyro. LISTEN to The Bells, and I Met Him on a Sunday, and You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me and It’s Gonna Take A Miracle.

Their big hit was Lady Marmalade [LISTEN, and watch], #1 in 1975. But within two years, the group broke up, and Patti went solo.

While she had a couple hits you may LISTEN to here, notably New Attitude (#17 in 1985) and On My Own (with Michael McDonald, #1 in 1986), she continues to be a working artist, touring regularly. She’s also putting out albums, with some success, especially on the R&B charts, inspiring a whole generation, or two, with her voice. She put out a decent Christmas collection that is apparently out of print. She can even sing the alphabet.

Diagnosed with diabetes in 1995, she has been a spokesperson for awareness of the disease. Recently, she commented on the notion of the diva.

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