Patti LaBelle

Patti LaBelle (born May 24, 1944) is an American soul singer who fronted The Blue Belles during the 1960s. In 1970, they morphed into the soul-funk trio Labelle, which released seven albums between 1971 and 1976, scoring a hit with “Lady Marmalade.”

After going solo, she released four albums on Epic, starting with her 1977 release Patti LaBelle. Between 1981 and 1985, she released three albums on PIR, charting with the mid-’80s hits “New Attitude” and “Stir It Up.” In 1986, she had a chart-topping duet with Michael McDonald on the Burt Bacharach / Carole Bayer Sager composition “On My Own.”

LaBelle was born Patricia Louise Holte on May 24, 1944, in Philadelphia. She grew up listening to R&B and jazz and sang in the local choir at Beulah Baptist Church. At age 16, she won a talent contest at John Bartram High School.

In 1960, Holte formed her first vocal group, The Ordettes. After the other members quit for domestic reasons, she assembled a new lineup with Cindy Birdsong, Sarah Dash, and Nona Hendryx. In 1962, they successfully auditioned for Newtown Records founder Harold Robinson. He sent them on tour with a new name, The Blue Belles, and had them lip-sync on TV for another Newton act, The Starlets. Amid the bad press and litigation, Robinson gave Holt a stage name, Patti LaBelle.

As Patti LaBelle and The Blue Belles, they charted with the 1963/64 singles “Down the Aisle” (King Records), “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and “Danny Boy” (both Cameo-Parkway). In 1965, they signed to Atlantic and charted with “All or Nothing” and “Take Me for a Little While.” After the 1966/67 albums Over the Rainbow and Dreamer, Birdsong got picked as Florence Ballard’s replacement in The Supremes. A further round of singles followed in 1968/69 before Atlantic dropped the group.

In 1970, English talent manager Vicki Wickham, formerly of the ITV music program Ready Steady Go!, agreed to manage the group, now comprised of LaBelle, Hendrix, and Dash. To suit the times, Wickham suggested an earthier image and a more succinct group name, Labelle. In this grittier, funkier iteration, they released two albums on Warner Bros. in 1971/72, plus a collaborative album with singer/songwriter Laura Nyro.

After their 1973 RCA release Pressure Cookin’ , the newly costumized Labelle signed to Epic for the 1974–76 albums Nightbirds, Phoenix, and Chameleon, scoring a huge hit from the first of those with “Lady Marmalade.” As the group toured Chameleon, tensions between the three reached the boiling point. After one tumultuous backstage incident during their 12/16/76 show in Baltimore, they agreed to go their separate ways.

Patti LaBelle resigned as a solo artist to Epic and returned to the studio with Chameleon producer David Rubinson. Her self-titled debut album appeared in August 1977.


  • Patti LaBelle (1977)
  • Tasty (1978)
  • It’s Alright With Me (1979)
  • Released (1980)
  • The Spirit’s in It (1981)
  • I’m in Love Again (1983)
  • Patti (1985)
  • Winner in You (1986)
  • Be Yourself (1989)


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