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In honor of Black Music Month, MadameNoire had the privilege to speak with the legendary songstress herself, Miss Patti LaBelle.

Getting her start in the industry back in the 60s as the lead singer of Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles — the first Black vocal group to land a cover on Rolling Stone magazine — her decades-long solo career has garnered Grammys, produced iconic albums and given music lovers chart-topping hits that are nostalgic and span generations. You know the ones — “Stir It Up,” “New Attitude,” “On My Own,” and numerous others. As a member of the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame, and as one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers, LaBelle is aptly known as the “Godmother of Soul.”

At 77-years-young, she’s proved for decades that she’s more than her music, having worked as an actress both on TV and in film in addition to being a businesswoman particularly passionate about her love of cooking. Patti pie anyone?

Miss Patti chatted about all that and more. We even discussed one of her most recent gigs — playing a “bad mother-in-law” in an Old Spice commercial alongside actor/comedians Deon Cole and Gabrielle Dennis, whom LaBelle previously worked with on A Black Lady Sketch Show.

MadameNoire: How was it working with Deon and Gabrielle on the Old Spice set?

Patti LaBelle: It was fun — being on the sketch show with Gabrielle was awesome. To know that she was my daughter in this Old Spice commercial I said “Wow that’s great.” And Deon is particularly crazy and fun. I had fun doing the commercial, so much fun. I want to do another one [laughs].

MN: I know you play a “bad mother in law” in the commercial — how was it taking on that role?

LaBelle: That’s me! I’m such a bad mother-in-law [laughs]. I have a son who’s married and I played that part [in the commercial] well. I was the “dirty” mother with Queen Latifah and Brandy when I did some episodes on Star so I’m used to being a bad mama [laughs].

MN: How did your cameo in the Old Spice commercial come about? Do you have a personal connection to the brand?

LaBelle: First of all, let me say that I have on the moisturizer with shea butter from the Fresher Collection and I took my shower with the body wash today so I’m smelling like an Old Spice Queen.

Back in the day my father, my uncles, the men in my family — all the men in my life used Old Spice. So when I was asked to play the role I said this is right up my alley because I know about Old Spice.


MN: So on top of being an “Old Spice Queen,” what else does your beauty regime consist of? We want to know because you look really good Miss Patti!

LaBelle: Thank you hunty [laughs]! I try!

I wake up every morning and I just take care of my body and my face. I have great makeup artists and great hair people and stylists — I’m the stylist too — but I make sure whatever I have on looks decent. Sometimes I use things on my face — I don’t like to give plugs but I’ve been using this certain thing on my face forever and it’s Vasaline. I use it to take off makeup, to moisturize, after that I used a great cream. I won’t give that cream a plug — but I’ve been blessed with good creams [laughs].

MN: Blessed with good skin too, for sure! [laughs] Another thing that the commercial touches on is the tensions brought on by quarantining with loved ones. Just like between you and your “son-in-law,” something as simple as using someone’s soap in the shower can become a problem. I know I’ve had things like that happen here and there over the last year and a half — how was quarantining for you? 

LaBelle: Quarantine has been decent for me. I have a bunch of safe people around me who watch me like a hawk. If I touch a doorknob by accident my son is right there with some disinfectant spray. They’re watching me all the time [laughs]. But I’m pretty careful now, you know, with the last 15 months.

And I’ve been having company in the house. And we stay distant but we have fun. We dance far apart. You gotta party honey, you can’t let 15 months make you an old lady.

Quarantine was safe and necessary.

MN: That’s great, I’m happy to hear that you were able to find joy within the last 15 months. And I definitely agree about needing to have a balance of enjoyment while keeping things safe — especially now that it’s the summertime and people are getting vaccinated so we can gather and have party time again.

I know you’re the queen of cookbooks, what recipes are on your radar for summertime gatherings this year?

LaBelle: Everything I make is on the radar and on the menu [laughs]!

Of course, we’re going to grill a lot. There’s turkey burgers, there’s fish, there’s shrimp — anything that you can put on the grill we’ve done it here. For the Fourth of July, we’re going to do it again. The inside meals are going to be the macaroni, the potato salad, kale greens with smoked turkey, turkey chili — just anything you’d think of, we’ll be doing it.

You know I have my Patti desserts so I have to make those. It’s gonna be a fun Fourth of July.

MN: Trust, I’m looking forward to snagging your pies for the holiday [laughs]. Lastly, I know you going back on tour this fall and I want to wrap things up by asking how you’re feeling going into that. Where’s your headspace at in terms of going back out on the road?

LaBelle: I’m so excited to sing on stage with a microphone, with a live audience so I can see if they’re moving, if they’re crying, if they’re laughing, if they’re hugging each other.

We still have to be careful [in terms of COVID precautions] so the people who will be coming to my concerts will be safe. We’re going to make sure everybody shows their vaccination cards.

For me to get back to the stage after 15 months — I’m just happy to see a breathing audience you know? After the quarantine I think we all know how to act now. And it’s not over — the quarantine is not over so don’t act like it’s over. Just be extra careful. But I’m ready to put on some pumps and go on stage and stomp. I can’t wait honey.

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