Queen Of Shade: Patti Labelle Comes For “All The Little Heifers Who Can’t Sing…”

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What are the songs you can’t leave the stage without performing?

Of course “Over the Rainbow,” and of course “Lady Marmalade” or “Lady M” or whatever you wanna call it. “If Only You Knew,” “You Are My Friend” and “New Attitude.” There are so many. I like to end the show with the Lord’s Prayer, but I haven’t lately. I think I will when I see you.

It’s been said that some singers are intimidated by your voice, as they very well should be. Has anyone ever turned down the opportunity to perform with you because of that?

Actually, Phoebe Snow did not want to open the show for me. She said she didn’t wanna be in the building with Patti LaBelle as a compliment, and she was one of my great friends. She passed on, but she was one lady who said, “I refuse to go on the same bill as Patti LaBelle,” because she loved me. There are a lot of ladies who don’t love me and they don’t love what comes out of this mouth … vocally, you know. So they player hate, and I congratulate. Heyyy!

A few times that I can’t talk about. (Laughs) Once recently, too. At this show in – oh, I don’t know where I was this past weekend – but I said something that was totally gross and my son, who’s my manager, stands in the back and watches everything, and when I come off (stage) he kills me. He killed me. “Mom, how could you say that?” I said, “It just slipped out.” It was something about drinking water. It was something about a particular kind of water that I hate. I was just dissing the water but (he said), “Don’t talk about it, because they might sue.” Chris, I do a lot of things that after I do them I say, “Why?”

Gosh, well, I’m working on a jazz CD that should be out this year, and then not only that, darling, but simultaneously I’ll be doing a dance album and an album of ballads.

Lastly, Patti, what’s the greatest life lesson you’ve learned?

I’ve learned to love my family while they’re here and give them anything they want … within reason. Never neglect going to the hospital to see your sister who’s dying of cancer. I missed that one. I missed my last sister, Jackie, who died five minutes away and she wanted an egg sandwich and I said, “I’ll bring it tomorrow.” And tomorrow she was gone. My life lesson is to do for those who you care for today. Right now. Like, when you hang up, Chris, call somebody and tell them you love them.

Read the full interview here.

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