My excitement in opening for Patti LaBelle must have shown, because I got a standing ovation for my performance, but truly, it was fueled by the fact that it was Patti LaBelle who was headlining and she was there to steal the show.
My father was with me that night. He always told me when I was a kid, “Sing it like you mean it!’ He didn’t know it, but he was about to meet someone who did exactly that.
Patti was incredible. She began her show by singing a spiritual song off stage in memory of her sisters who were all lost to cancer. “They were all too young,” she said once in an interview, “I never thought I’d make it to 50.” It was particularly moving because neither Patti nor her sisters were on stage, so for the duration of the song, it was as if they were all together again.
Patti is personal, charismatic, and totally becomes every song she sings, and anyone who witnesses her understands that right from the start that SHE IS THE MUSIC.
As we the people in martial arts say, “Patti leaves it all on the floor.” She’s absolutely transparent, and I felt as if I’d known her for much longer than a couple of hours. At the end of the show, she sang “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and if anyone in the audience didn’t feel that they really knew her, they were comatose.
After her show, my Dad and I sat on the couch outside her dressing room waiting for a chance to meet her. You’ll never guess who walked up to see Patti? PEARL BAILEY! I greeted her hello and told her we were waiting to see Patti as well and that I had opened the show for her.
“Well what are you doin’ out here? You come on in with me,” Pearl said. I asked her if I could get a picture with her and she said, “I’ll give you something better than that Honey,” and she threw her arms around me and hugged me like I was family. I’ll never forget that moment.
Pearl escorted Dad and I into Patti La Belle’s dressing room and introduced Me as as her support act, and introduced Dad. Dad told her she gave him goosebumps. Patti kissed him! She also said she enjoyed my opening and took a picture with me and her band. MAGIC!
6 years later, Jodi Goodman booked me to open for Patti again at Harbor Lights Concert Pavilion on Boston Harbor. I brought my Dad with me again because he’d been in love with Patti since she gave him a kiss at the Melody Tent.
I did my opening and waited with Dad on the secured tarmac behind the main stage. There was about a 60-foot walk from the door of her dressing room to the back stairs that lead to the main stage.
Patti came out being rushed along by her security and manager, but I managed to get her attention long enough to let her know I had supported her before and I was very happy to do it again, and to show her a picture of her giving Dad a kiss at the Melody Tent. Her people rushed her quickly by and said, “We have to go!” Dad’s face showed his disappointment.
As they walked her to the back stairs to make her entrance, she stopped short of stepping on to the stairs, shook loose of her managers arm, turned 180 degrees and walked all the way back across the tarmac and kissed Dad again!
If you don’t know her by now…
THANK YOU PATTI – I loved being a part of your shows, but especially loved that you gave my Dad some very special moments.