Aretha is the Queen of Soul and Gladys is the Empress. Patti’s sound has been so hard to categorize over the years and her vocals so otherworldly that it’s not to easy to put her in a box. But today I have an appropriate title for the musical legend. We’ve always known that Patti has a little spice to her. She’s never one to shy away from speaking her mind. And she proved that in a recent interview with PrideSource.com, an LGBTQ site. After speaking about her love of gays, she addressed the term “diva” and how it’s gotten watered down by mediocre talent over the years. She didn’t name names because that would be too messy. But check the quotes from the interview and see if you can guess the artists she’s referring to.
On her love of the gays
I’ve been in this business for maybe 51 years, and so I think 50 years ago. (Laughs) The first year I wasn’t sure, but the second year of performing I got this love – I mean, great love – from my gay fans. I always questioned, “Why do they love me? Why do they really, really give a damn about Patti LaBelle?” And I think it’s because I’m such a free spirit and such a drag queen, really, myself. The original drag queen.
What’s your relationship with them been like over the years? Has that bond gotten stronger?
It’s much stronger. I think if I ran for president of the gay community, they might elect me. And I would handle it so well. It would just be one of those things I was born to do. So I think every year it grows and grows and grows. A lot of gay fans who come to see me, I think they’re afraid to be out until I say something and let everyone know it’s fine to just be yourself.
If you were president, what would be the first thing you might do for the gay community?
I would let everyone gay who wants to get married – no matter what city, what country, what state – say “I do.” That would be my first order. Everybody say “yes” to gay marriages.
What does it mean to be a diva?
That word is used so loosely that I don’t even consider myself a diva. I always considered myself a woman who sings her heart out and who gives 120 percent. “Diva” is a word that I wouldn’t wanna call myself because it’s so loosely used. It’s not cute anymore.
Is there a negative connotation to it now?
Yeah, because all these little heifers who can’t sing are called divas! It doesn’t mean anything to me and probably to some of the other ladies who have been doing it for as long as I have: Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick. You know, I’m speaking for me – I don’t know if they like to be called divas – but I know I wouldn’t call them divas, because it’s not in good company.
But it used to be a respectable term at some point.
Well, for opera singers, and for ladies who earned it, but that was way, way back when. Now you can look up to them, but you might not see what you wanna see. A hot mess! People who are doing it and doing it with about 40 people on stage with them to hide their pitifulness – that’s not a word, but you know what I mean.
Patti is a trip boi! While she’s an auntie in my head, I don’t know if I’d want to meet her when either one of us are having a bad day. Patti seems like she’s not one to bite her tongue. And if I wasn’t on point, I’m sure she would tell me. And while she admittedly keeps it real, she didn’t identify any of the little heifers. Sigh. Now, we’re left trying to guess who she was talking about. Do you have any idea of who she’s mentioning? I don’t necessarily know about any of them having 40 people on stage with them, but the only divas I can think of are on TVOne. Do you have a guess? Let us know who you think she was mentioning in the comments’ section.
On the next page, find out which songs she has to perform before she leaves the stage, singers being intimidated by her voice and what’s been the biggest life lesson she’s learned.