Legacy of a Legend: An Exclusive Interview with Patti LaBelle!
In this edition of the Philippe Matthews Show, I’m going to give you an inside look into the phenomenal mind of The Legacy of a Legend: An Exclusive Interview with Patti LaBelle!
While researching for my interview, the Legacy of a Legend: An Exclusive Interview with Patti LaBelle, I discovered that when Patti Labelle was a little girl, she never dreamed that she would grow up to become a living legend and create a voice and music that are timeless.
By: Philippe Matthews
Born May 24, 1944, the 68 year old is a superstar that literally looks better with time! Patti says, “I became who I was suppose to become not knowing or working on it. I didn’t work on becoming a household name or anything like that. I just did my craft and very honestly. I never half stepped and I never did anything that I thought would bring me stardom quicker. So I did everything in time and time took care of me.”
As a child, Patti’s father worked for the railroad and her mother was a housewife. She recalled during her childhood she was very quiet and shy. “I was very, very closed,” Patti offered. “I didn’t’ have any friends. I was very homely. I wore my mother’s apron in the kitchen and I think that’s when I learned to cook. I stayed around her and under her apron.” To this day Patti admits to being extremely shy and introverted even though when you see her perform, she is anything but! “Most people don’t’ believe that but, I am not very easy with about six people in the room…I’m very easy with six thousand. I get into a corner and quiet when there are a few people in the room but with a lot, I can take it. But I can’t stand one-on-one.”
Iyanla Vanzant told me once in an interview that “the best students always get the hardest tests.” Patti is no exception to this rule. Although she has had many personal victories in her life, she has also suffered many battles. Patti says, “I’m a good student…I’m a real good student! And I’m still willing to learn and still having to learn. There are so many things that I’ve could have done a different way or a better way but I still have to learn how to do it a different way. I’m learning everyday and everyday I’m getting to be a better student.”
Using an assortment of her favorite maxims, adages and sayings, one of my favorite books authored by Patti is her inspiring collection of practical guidance and instruction on how to live a fulfilling and rewarding life. In Patti’s Pearls: Lessons In Living Genuinely, Joyfully, Generously (Warner Books), Patti put together a lifetime collection of wisdom and inspiring thoughts. “These are life lessons that are learned and heard from mother, grandmother and aunts, older friends and friends who are no longer here. They are some of the things that I listen too and live by them and some of the things I didn’t listen to or hear or even realize that I’ve been told this until they happened to me. Patti’s Pearls are things that a young girl or a young man, an older woman or older man of any race or age pick up and say, ‘ok, I need to listen to this lesson.’”
A Glimpse of Wisdom from PATTI’S PEARL: Every exit is an entrance to some place else
“When one door closes, God has another door open and you don’t even have a clue that there’s a door waiting for you to open it. So many people say, ‘why me?!’ Why not me? Sometimes when things happen to others we say ‘well why couldn’t that have happened to me, maybe I could have handled it better or dealt with it better’ so sometimes you should say, ‘why not me.’”
When life happens to us and throws you a curve ball, it’s easy to blame and point the finger at someone else but Patti says, “My pointing days are over because I know that I’m a real mess-up in a lot of cases and a lot of situations and a lot of times my way is like the retarded way! But it’s the way that I know and I know that messes with a lot of people but I ask for people to just try and understand me, try and live my way for a day or so. I have to ask people to understand chaos because many times I’m very chaotic but this is the me that I know. To me it makes sense because things are falling into my place now.”
PATTI’S PEARL: You don’t need a certain number of friends, only a number of friends that you can be certain of.
“In the past year I have been finding out how true that is. People who I really thought were my real friends, were friends of convenience because of who I am and it could help them in some situation. That I know is real. I knew how real it was before the last year passed so, you’ve got to be certain of certain people that you can count on.”
As a result of her false friendship insight, Patti began cleaning her friendship house. “It’s so hard. The ones that you call friends think that the rules you make for certain people don’t not apply to them. They put themselves in a category of ‘I’m the only one that do this and get away with it.’ Then they find out when they do it; ‘no you are not!’ That’s when I find out that they are not really the friends that I thought they were. I clean house when they hang themselves and take me too much for granted. Sometimes it hurts me so bad that the other person has to quit our relationship because they know that I found out. The way they know that I found out is that I become a very cold person without saying anything. It’s hard for me to say that the friendship is over and I would like to fire you. So, they feel my coldness and they say ‘I’ve got to go.’ Because my Gemini comes out and she’s a real heifer! We’ve got about fifteen personalities and don’t let that real mean one come out! When that mean one comes out, she doesn’t talk, she cuts her eyes at you, she doesn’t say anything, and when she comes out everybody knows it. It’s very hard for me to dismiss anyone so they leave on their own and that’s when they know they tore their ass…you know what I mean?”
Although Patti admits she is a very easy person to work with she says, “I don’t give anybody any hassles or hard tasks. So, when they can’t get over on me anymore or can’t run my life…like I said before; when I was married for thirty one years, I was taken care of and babied, everything was done for me so now that he’s no longer in my life, a lot of people think they are the next one in line. Be a male or a woman and I don’t do fish! Some of these people feel I need to be mothered or nurtured but when they see I’m strong enough to make these decisions on my own and they get pissed, for some reason they can’t take my independence and they got to go! They have seen my change in attitude and they know its’ nothing that I’ve said or done to them its just that they can’t control me.”
PATTI’S PEARL: The only time you run out of chances is when you stop taking them.
“That was something that I witnesses and I went through years ago when I separated from my husband. That was a chance I had to take and had not taken a chance. I would have just been still not taking a chance. It would be like you didn’t even try to change your life or make a difference because of fear. I don’t think you should fear something that you have never tried and I had never tried divorce or separation. I had been married to him for 31 years. So, it was a first for me but a chance that people are usually afraid to take.”
The biggest lesson Patti says she learned from her divorce was, “I let myself grow after letting thirty one years go. I’m really growing into a grown woman now at the age of 68. I’ve let myself go away from things that I’ve always been sheltered from. I’ve always been taken care of like a little baby girl. My husband always took care of the bills and now I do these things myself and I do them so well that I’m just growing up! That also makes me look better on the outside because I feel really good on the inside. I know that I can be on my own and do it alone and I won’t feel beat down for it and I won’t feel like I’m making a big mistake by trying to take care of a household problem in Patti’s way. So, what I’ve learned is that you let go and let God and if it’s for you to grow you will and if you are not suppose to, you know that too but at least give it a chance.”
PATTI’S PEARL: Making a living is not the same as making a life.
“You work so hard and you make a whole lot of money but when you finish making that money you don’t have a life to come home to. I’m finding that it works pretty well for me now. I take time out for family and me. Before I would work so hard that I would forget about the holidays and the family needs not just the monetary needs. The need of just feeling close to you and being around you – that is making a life. Making a living is something I do quite well but sometimes I might not handle the life part as well. Those are things I work on.”
PATTI’S BIGGEST LIFE LESSON
With a career and lifestyle that is larger than life, Patti found herself in a new dilemma after her divorce and new attitude on life. “Being honest,” she explains, “if I decide to get married again, it’s going to be very hard for me to be honest with my son that I’ve found somebody else. It’s not that I’m going to hide things from him it’s just that I’m going to be very careful about how honest I am. I am blessed with a very wonderful son who understands and who loves me very, very, very much and who wants me to always be healthy and happy. But I’m afraid of him accepting someone else in my life other than his father. I am afraid to fall in love and let him know because why couldn’t it be his father?”
“That was almost thirty three years and it’s over but kids, no matter how old they are they just don’t understand the two of you not staying together or you finding someone else to love. That’s really hard — being Patti Labelle, the mother, being an ex-wife and whatever people see me as. It’s just hard sometimes being me. I was miserable for fifteen years pretending for my son’s sake that everything was okay. Not for me, not for anything except him and I realized that you can’t live for your children. If you are not happy, you are not going to be a happy mother and that’s what I have to be. There had to be another way for me. I had to take a chance or settle with misery and I don’t want to be miserable in my life again.”
As we were coming to the close of our interview, I noticed Patti was yawning quite a bit and seemed a bit tired. I assumed she had a long, busy day performing and working. I later discovered the real reason Patti was tired. It wasn’t work, it was working out! Patti is getting in the best shape of her life! “I went to see a personal trainer for the first time today and I was fighting it for the last week because I didn’t want to go. I knew my interview with you was coming up and I knew if I did the interview that would be a great excuse for me to say, ‘oh, I was late with my interview so I didn’t go to workout!’ But I went today before the interview and he didn’t work me out too much because he didn’t want to scare me away, but I told him I hate this stuff! But the little bit he had me do honey wore my butt out in five minutes! I didn’t’ even do anything, I just twisted my knees and he had me on this tricycle or something – that’s why I’m tired. He beat me up just telling me what I’m going to be doing so I’m ready to get in the tub and under the bed.”
Patti Labelle’s Book Library
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