She’s got a new attitude, and now, a new street.
The legendary soul singer Patti LaBelle was honored at the Kimmel Center on Tuesday with her own street. Broad Street between Spruce and Locust Street was named Patti LaBelle Way in a ceremony hosted by Patty Jackson of WDAS (105.3 FM).
“I never would’ve dreamed of this,” said LaBelle, who sported a floral-print pantsuit accented with a oversize chiffon bow at the collar for the event. “I was a shy little girl from West Philly. To go from shy Patti to Patti LaBelle Way is incredible.”
LaBelle, known to many as the godmother of soul music, has had a five-decade-long career, as a solo artist and the leader of disco trio LaBelle. But her influence reaches beyond music. She has been involved in many humanitarian efforts throughout her career, including as an HIV/AIDS awareness advocate.
LaBelle said the most powerful lesson that she has learned from being in the business is understanding how to treat people.
“My way of life is, lift people and not make them feel like a burden," LaBelle said.
Lately, she has experienced a resurgence as a celebrity chef: she has written several cookbooks, hosted a show on the Cooking Channel, and produced a line of desserts, including a sweet potato pie that has been sold by Walmart since 2015. LaBelle has also snagged roles on TV shows like Own’s Greenleaf, Fox’s Empire, and FX’s American Horror Story: Freak Show.
She joins the ranks of other public figures who have had Philly streets named in their honor, including Boyz II Men and Muhammad Ali, although Ali was not a Philly native.
Mayor Jim Kenney, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, and Welcome America Inc. president and CEO Michael DelBene, gave speeches before Jackson brought LaBelle onto the stage.
LaBelle greeted the audience with a hearty wave and a bright smile.
“I want to thank all the people that have begged for this street," she told the hundreds of people gathered in her honor. “If you woke up, never say you didn’t do anything. Work that day, honey.”
After a round of applause, LaBelle said she was a loss for words. People yelled, “Sing!” And she broke out into the chorus of her 1983 hit, “Love, Need, and Want You." Her audience didn’t let her sing alone.
“I’m so proud of Philadelphia,” she said. “I’ll sing for free for you any day.”