Carnegie Hall, June 23, 2007:
Kathy and I travel to Carnegie Hall in Manhattan, to see Patti LaBelle at The JVC Jazz Festival. After a great opening set from the Lou Donaldson Quartet, there is a short intermission. Our seats are front row center: A107, A108. We are very disappointed that a large teleprompter is blocking our view.
Patti LaBelle begins her performance by coming down the aisle. The audience is thrilled as she enters and sings in their midst. The vocal refrain, “woo, woo” sums up the immediate reaction that this is gonna be smokin’. As Patti LaBelle enters the stage, she drops her $200,000.00 bracelet. Patti briefly sings her current T.V. commercial to convey her health message and remind us that she is diabetic.
The band plays a slow and subtle intro as they warm up. The dynamic feel is hushed and reserved with a strong backbeat. This understated, strong 4/4 tempo gives me goose bumps. Patti LaBelle goes into the Sam Cooke tune, “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Patti’s voice is powerful and the band is exceedingly tight.
Patti removes her burgundy cape to reveal a long black gown. She quickly jumps into one of her more recent hits, “Feels Like Another One.” To remain ever young, Patti does rapper Yung Joc’s “Motorcycle Dance.” Patti then rips the train off her gown, revealing an extremely short and sexy skirt.
Patti LaBelle informs the audience that one of her dear musical collaborators lost his daughter today and yet still came tonight to be here at Carnegie Hall with her. Patti goes into, “Love, Need and Want You.” The arrangement is a slow and deliberate 4/4 tempo. She engages in a creative answer/response vocal arrangement with the amazingly talented backup singers. What sincere sentiment, as her vocal is overflowing with emotion.
Patti describes how 18 years ago people were struggling from being married, to being single from divorce. She segues into, “On My Own,” a song she wrote with Michael McDonald. Patti annunciates a strong vocal with falsetto. She sings a captivating duet with pianist John Stanley who stands beside Patti for a powerful vocal and visual effect.
A bottle of red wine is opened and Patti imbibes as she admires herself in a compact mirror. The next song, “If Only You Knew,” is a very delicate and endearing rendition of her own revealing composition. Patti then sings, “You Are My Friend,” and informs the audience of its Gospel roots and origination from deep personal experience. The next song is a Prince composition, “Yo Mister.” The arrangement is a very upbeat, staccato, marching stomp. The band is powerful and showcases the background vocalists. Patti struts around the stage proudly.
Patti describes the next composition as a song from two records ago. Her rendition of, “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” is quite incredible! This Reid, Shamblin composition was originally made famous by Bonnie Raitt. This powerfully emotional song brings tears to many audience members. The piano solo is a creative embellishment of the timeless melody. The solo is at first dynamically soft and sincere, then transitions into soaring emotional high notes and dramatic phrasing. The band remains tight and contained. The talented backup vocalists whisper the refrain for great effect; softer and softer to the very end.
Patti rocks out with, “I Keep Forgetting.” The arrangement is hot and funky, with a creative melodic change. The band is smokin’. Patti’s vocal presentation soars and the backup vocalists are tremendous. The bassist is extremely talented. Patti LaBelle sings, “2 Steps Away,” from her 2004 album Timeless Journey. The acoustic guitar accompaniment is slow and sensual with clever melodic changes. Patti executes tremendous dynamic vocal phrasing, from quiet to soaring high notes. Patti leans on the piano and wails the absolute highest and strongest note of the night. The band is cohesive. Their musical accents are strong and dramatic. Pattie continues to wail without a microphone!
A man brings Patti a dress as the next song begins. The arrangement is rockin’ and the band is sizzling. The band displays excellent dynamic control. Emotions run high. Patti takes her shoes off. Through a musical change comes a fiery guitar solo. The music continues to burn as Patti says, “give the drummer some.” The drummer confidently responds with an amazing drum solo. The tune is Al Green’s “Love and Happiness.”
“Lady Marmalade” is the next song from Patti LaBelle. This song was made famous from the LaBelle album Nightbirds. During a spectacular rendition of the song, Patti pauses to ask several people to come on stage: the man who gave Patti the dress and another person who is integral to Patti’s professional career. Then she asks if there are any singers in the audience. Two young eager volunteers jump on the stage. My wife Kathy pushes me forward and says, “get up there, you can sing.” I stand directly in front of Patti LaBelle pounding my chest saying, “me, pick me!” and miraculously she does. I have some difficulty getting myself up on the stage, but muster the energy. As I stand in line, center stage, waiting my turn, I realize I have the camera in my jacket pocket. I walk to the edge of the stage to give the camera to Kathy to take some pictures. I return to the line to wait my turn to sing. Then Patti faces me, as she hands me a wireless mic and the spotlight is directed at me. I am on center stage of Carnegie Hall, face to face with Patti LaBelle, and she says, “now sing.” I sing loud and clear: “Gitchi Gitchi Ya Ya Out Now, Gitchi Gitchi Ya Ya Here, Gitchi Gitchi Ya Ya Out Now, Gitchi Gitchi Ya Ya Here!” Patti exclaims, “He can sing,” and approves my vocal effort. At the end, she gives me a huge hug on stage.
After the hug the bodyguard says, “your done” and motions me to get off the stage. I jump down from the Carnegie Hall stage after a once-in-a-lifetime miracle moment with Patti LaBelle. Everyone congratulates me as I shake with emotion.
“Somewhere Over The Rainbow” follows next. This is a tearful rendition of a great ballad. Patti recites many names of the deceased. The dynamics are amazing. The vocal delivery is truly sincere, with a very effective use of rests. The encore is, “I’ll Stand By You.” Patti’s vocal delivery is slow and deliberate. The singing is very controlled with incredibly emotional facial expressions.
Everyone in Carnegie Hall is truly blown away. The standing ovation lasts for several minutes. Patti LaBelle puts on a stellar performance tonight! Her band and backing vocalists are talented beyond words, and fully complement her musical genius. Thank you Patti LaBelle for brightening our world with your amazing talent!
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