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Interview:
Patti LaBelle's juggling a full plate these days
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Patti LaBelle has plenty of memories about performing in Detroit since hear early 60s days in the Blue Belles.

There are some special off-stage memories, too.

"I got my first car from Richard Pryor," recalls the LaBelle, 69, who was born Patricia Holte in Philadelphia. "He took me to the Ford Motor Company years and years ago to buy a car for me. I didn't know it was for me, though; I thought it was for his aunt.

"So I picked out a beautiful car, and he turned around and said, 'This is for you' -- which was so very sweet, except I couldn't drive. And I don't drive, still. But it was so nice..."

LaBelle still has plenty of creative drive, however. She's working on a new jazz album with collections of dance music and ballads to follow. She's also creating new products for her Patti's Good LIfe line of food and home products. She's not slowing down, in other words, even 40 years after her biggest hit -- "Lady Marmalade" with the group Labelle -- and even as she gets closer to her 70th birthday.

"I'm having a big ol' party, honey," LaBelle promises. "I'm really happy, of course. I'm happy to be living; my sisters all died before they turned 44, of cancer, and I always thought that maybe at 45 or 46 I would be out of here, too.

"But I'm not. I'm diabetic but I've not been diagnosed with cancer, and I hope I never am. So 70, that's big. I'm gonna celebrate -- and then I'm going to keep working, because I'm still here and I still have those opportunities I'm thankful for."

Patti LaBelle performs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at SoundBoard in the Motor City Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $48-$78. Call 313-309-4700 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.

Web Site: www.motorcitycasino.com

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