Patti Labelle

AMERICAN SOUL LEGEND

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About

Patti Labelle

Going out on the road, the Bluebelles earned national fame at The Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, where they became "Apollo Sweethearts." The group also enjoyed modest success with remakes of songs such as "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and their ballad "Down the Aisle (The Wedding Song)" became a top 40 hit. Yet nothing compared to their early success. In 1967, Cindy Birdsong left the group to join forces with Diana Ross and the Supremes. Meanwhile, the remaining members of the Bluebelles tried to pull out of their musical slump.

In 1970, unable to recreate their early success, the Bluebelles were dropped from their label and abandoned by their managers. LaBelle turned to promoter Vicki Wickham for help with their antiquated image. Under Wickham's management, the group changed their name to the edgier "LaBelle," altered their fashion to reflect the 1970s glam rock era, and pushed the limits with their lyrics and music.

After releasing several albums on the Warner Bros. label, their 1974 release Nightbirds finally caught on with listeners. The first single off the album, "Lady Marmalade," about a seductress in New Orleans, became the group's first No. 1 hit in 12 years.

In response to the album's success, the group began a whirlwind tour, becoming the first group to play at the Metropolitan Opera House, and the first Black vocal group to land the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Yet, underneath the success, there was a layer of tension within the group over musical direction. In 1977, after creative differences, the group split up to focus on solo projects.

Solo Success

LaBelle released her eponymous solo debut in 1977, which received critical acclaim. In 1982, after the moderate success of albums such as Tasty (1978) and Released (1980), LaBelle recorded the ballad "The Best is Yet to Come," which reached No. 14 on the R&B chart, and garnered LaBelle her first solo Grammy Award nomination. That same year she had a No. 1 hit with "On My Own," sung with Michael MacDonald.

Throughout the 1980s, LaBelle continued to score hits with songs such as 1984's "New Attitude" and "Stir It Up," which both became pop radio staples, as well as 1989's "If You Asked Me To."

In 2008, LaBelle and former LaBelle group members Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash reunited to release Back to Now, their first full album as a group in 32 years. The collection featured a combination of new songs and singles recorded before the LaBelle group break-up. The album was followed by a successful reunion tour. In June 2009, LaBelle was honored yet again, with her induction into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame.

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LADY MARMALADE
IF YOU ASKED ME TOO