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Patti LaBelle: New Jazz Attitude

On her first standards album, R&B empress Patti LaBelle confronts her jazz fears

Photo of Patti Labelle
Patti Labelle

Patti LaBelle was just 18 when her 1962 cover of “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman” set her on the path to stardom. Fifty-five years on, there’s little that Patti LaBelle hasn’t accomplished. Hailed as the “Godmother of Soul,” she’s been a disco pioneer, a cornerstone of the Philadelphia Sound and a mainstream chart-topper. She’s successfully ventured into psychedelic soul and synth-pop, headlined Broadway musicals and, just for good measure, become a bestselling cookbook author with a top-rated Cooking Channel show (Patti LaBelle’s Place) and a popular line of prepared foods. She’s earned three Grammy Awards, seven NAACP Image Awards and myriad lifetime-achievement citations from the likes of BET, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Apollo Theater.

Yet only now is LaBelle releasing an album of standards. Selecting songs associated with vocalists who’ve influenced her personally and professionally, LaBelle proves a standout jazz stylist—yet another feather in her overcrowded cap. Recently, she spoke with JT from her Philly home about the coyly titled Bel Hommage (GPE).  –CHRISTOPHER LOUDON

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