Patti LaBelle, singer, songwriter, author, and actress, was born Patricia Louise Holte in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. LaBelle began singing in church at a young age and in 1959 formed a four-member group called the Ordettes. In 1961, the group’s name was changed to The Bluebelles and in 1965 to Patti LaBelle and The Bluebelles.
Their first single was “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman” (1962) and their 1963 release, “Down the Aisle (The Wedding Song),” was a top 40 hit. In 1971, the group changed their name to Labelle and in 1974 released the album “Nightbirds” which included the single “Lady Marmalade” which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a recording of “qualitative or historical significance” in 2003. In 1977, the group agreed to split up to pursue solo careers and LaBelle released her debut album, “Patti LaBelle.”
Other albums by LaBelle include “I’m In Love Again” (1983), “Winner in You” (1986), “Burnin’” (1991), which won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance, “Live! One Night Only” (1998), which won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance, “When a Woman Loves” (2000) and “The Gospel According to Patti LaBelle” (2006). As an author LaBelle has written four best-sellers, “Don’t Block the Blessings: Revelations of a Lifetime,” “Patti LaBelle’s Lite Cuisine,” “LaBelle Cuisine” and “Patti’s Pearls.”
As an actress she has appeared in numerous television shows, including starring in her own situation comedy, “Out All Night” which aired from September, 1992 to July, 1993. From September, 2010 through the end of its Broadway run in January, 2011, LaBelle appeared in the musical “Fela.”
After the group split in 1976, LaBelle began a successful solo career, starting with her critically acclaimed debut album, which included the career-defining song, “You Are My Friend”. LaBelle became a mainstream solo star in 1984 following the success of the singles, “If Only You Knew”, “New Attitude” and “Stir It Up”, with the latter two crossing over to pop audiences and becoming radio staples.
Less than two years later, in 1986, LaBelle scored with the number-one album, Winner in You and the number-one duet single, “On My Own”, with Michael McDonald. LaBelle eventually won a 1992 Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for her 1991 album, Burnin’, followed by a second Grammy win for the live album, Live! One Night Only.
Her 1990s albums, Burnin’, Gems (1994) and Flame (1997), continued her popularity with young R&B audiences throughout the decade. Following the release of two mildly receptive solo albums in the early new millennium, she reunited with her Labelle band mates for the album, Back to Now, followed by a briefly well received promotional tour.
LaBelle’s success has extended as an actress with a notable role in the film, A Soldier’s Story, and in TV shows such as A Different World and American Horror Story: Freak Show. In 1992, LaBelle starred in her own TV sitcom, Out All Night. A decade later, LaBelle hosted her own lifestyle TV show, Living It Up with Patti LaBelle on TV One. In 2015, LaBelle took part in the dance competition, Dancing with the Stars.
In a career that has spanned fifty years, she has sold more than 50 million records worldwide. LaBelle has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. In 2005, the World Music Awards recognized her years in the music business by awarding her the Legend Award. LaBelle was included in Rolling Stone on their list of 100 Greatest Singers. LaBelle is commonly identified as the “Godmother of Soul”. LaBelle is a dramatic soprano and is noted for her vocal power, range and emotive delivery. She also has a cake named “Patti LaBelle’s Fancy Cake”.