One would think at the tender age of 73, Patti LaBelle would think about slowing down some.
But with a long-awaited recording project debuting in the top of the charts, a new cookbook selling well and a string of live concert dates underway — including last weekend’s New York Gay Pride Festival with Deborah Cox — the ‘New Attitude’ singer is truly doing the most.
And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I am blessed, I am blessed,” the R&B superdiva told NBCBLK last week during a break in a very hectic schedule. When the former Patricia Holt is not toiling on her multiple business endeavors, she’s enjoying the company of her two-year-old granddaughter Gia Patricia Edwards — who has her own Instagram account with nearly 4,000 followers.
“That’s my pookie. That’s my little grand baby,” LaBelle gushed about the fashion-forward tyke who is prominently featured in her book “Desserts LaBelle: Soulful Sweets to Sing About.”
“I expected a semi-good little girl, a semi-bad little girl, a little demon, a little angel, and that’s everything she is,” she said. “She gives me so much joy. You know how certain people can lift your life and just make you happy? When you wake up, you know you’re gonna see that baby, or that person? Well, she’s my go-to for it.”
And “Miss Patti” — as she is affectionately known and answers to — is looking for another dose of baby love. “Another one’s on the way,” LaBelle revealed about the forthcoming granddaughter to be born later this year.
Her new cookbook — her fourth to date — offers up cherished memories, beautiful and candid family photos and 75 dessert recipes. It evens include a recipe for her famous sweet potato pie, which flew off of Wal-Mart shelves during the holiday season of 2015.
But the three-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter admits she isn’t giving away her entire secret formula.
“You got to keep a little ‘something-something’ to yourself right?” she mused.
“You don’t give it all out, but you give most of it,” LaBelle furthered. “I don’t mind even giving the whole recipe but every now and then I feel like being a little stingy. You know sometimes my friends will tell me, ‘We made this and we made it like you said but it didn’t taste like yours.’ That’s because I didn’t give you everything.”
Currently in Wal-Mart stores, LaBelle has an entire line of baked treats to accompany the yummy yammy treats including apple peach cobbler, banana pudding and caramel cake. She still has plans to launch frozen savory items too. Her bedding line, which includes satin sheets, animal print throws and comforter sets, is available via the retailer’s website.
Musically speaking, the Philadelphia native is proud that her latest album, ‘Bel Hommage,’ her first music in over 10 years, reached the number two spot on Billboard’s Top Jazz Album chart last month.
The project, released through her own GPE Records, took over two years to finish and, according to LaBelle, a true tug of war to get out.
“It happened with persistence,” she confessed. “My ex-husband [Armstead Edwards] and my son [Zuri Edwards], they’ve been fighting for me. Since my son’s been born, he’s been fighting for me, and my husband and I were married for over 30 years and he’s always been in the Patti corner to make things better for Patti LaBelle. And so when you’re a great fighter you eventually win.”
Throughout her five decade plus career, LaBelle has put her vocal magic on nearly 500 song titles — even songs popularized by Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan and of course Judy Garland (‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’). Now that her first jazz collection is done, she has designs to do more genre-specific collections including American standards and new gospel and holiday music offerings.
The label isn’t just another celebrity vanity endeavor she promises; it will be a showcase other artists too.
“It’s not a vanity thing, it’s for everybody who I love who has talent that may not shine because nobody will give them a lit candle,” she shared.
“So I’m giving all of my lovely people lit candles. Let them do what they have to do. You know, we have so much to say but most of the time we, as black artists, don’t get a chance to record anything or let anybody know how great we are, so I’m gonna open that door for a few people.”
One door she’s hopes will open for her is one answered by The Queen of Soul.
Although LaBelle has recorded with a virtual who’s who of music’s biggest and best — including Frank Sinatra, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, Mary J. Blige, Michael McDonald, Prince, Elton John, Mariah Carey, Travis Tritt and even rap legend Big Daddy Kane — she wants to duet with the one and the only Aretha Franklin.
“I love her,” she said of the ‘Freeway of Love’ songstress, who happens to be her long rumored rival. With drama emanating for her side, LaBelle has nothing but R-E-S-P-E-C-T: “She was one of the greatest singers who ever lived, and before we both leave the planet I would love to have a song with her. It could be any kind of music with her. I don’t care. I just wanna sing with her.”
Also on the wish list: Playing one of the world’s most revered cabaret venues: Café Carlyle in New York City.
“I’ve never played there, never. But I need to,” she attested. “I don’t know when that’s gonna happen, but it will happen!”
Looking ahead, there’s another collaborative album with Nona Hendryx and Sara Dash of her groundbreaking band Labelle in the works.
“Nona is one of those writers that you’ll never find again. One of the greatest writers, and we’re planning on doing some more music together. We never left each other, we’re just separate but never apart,” LaBelle said of the ‘Lady Marmalade’ troupe who she also revealed will be inducted into the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame later this year.
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