LaBelle of la Ball

Few R&B divas have the career longevity of Patti LaBelle. Born in Philadelphia in 1944, LaBelle, like virtually every singer of her generation, began singing in church. The Lord beheld her mighty pipes and said, "You go, girl!" Early on, she hooked up with Cindy Birdsong, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash and the Blue Belles were born, acing the R&B and pop Top 20 with "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" in 1962. In 1970, the trio took on Brit manager Vicki Wickham, who rechristened the group LaBelle and advised it to get funky. Swathed in Bowie-esque finery, LaBelle conquered the world with the omnipresent single "Lady Marmalade." By '77, Patti felt the calling and went solo. Through the '90s, hit followed hit, along with a Grammy, acting on Broadway, and songs penned by Prince just for her. But the man upstairs hasn't had enough — LaBelle continues to tour and recently recorded the Pretenders' "I'll Stand by You." We see the light.

Patti LaBelle performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, January 26, at the Sinatra Theater of the BankAtlantic Center, 1 Panther Pkwy., Sunrise. Tickets cost $82.25 to $102.25. Call 954-835-8499.

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