Patti LaBelle is undoubtedly a music legend and a living, breathing example of Black history. The trailblazing diva has enjoyed a storied 60-year career and has a litany of accolades to show for it, yet she continues to give us amazing performances whenever she steps on a stage. So it’s no wonder that Miss Patti was one of the artists selected to hold it down for NPR Music‘s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts series in honor of Black History Month.
The singer had many, many hits to choose from, so it would be hard for her to disappoint with song selection. And she doesn’t, bringing three of her signature songs and a showstopper from her LaBelle days to the proceedings.
She opens her set with “Something Special (Is Gonna Happen Tonight)” from her 1986 album Winner. The song might not be her best known, but her live band (which features Jeff Bradshaw on trombone and B. Slade on backing vocals) help the veteran make it pop like it topped the charts. She then slows it down with the ballad “Love, Need And Want You.” Though she’s performed the song probably thousands of times, this version incorporates some jazzier inflections into this take to make it sing even more.
Patti then puts another slow jam on with “If You Only You Knew,” taking her time to deliver the romantic tune with just the right amount of tender, loving care. And while she’s known for sending her voice to the rafters, she shows that she can also reel us in for the quiet moments as well. She goes on to close the set with LaBelle’s funky staple “Lady Marmalade.” The upbeat number acts as the perfect punctuation to a good time as it allows the singer to have a good time while reminding us all why she’s the icon she is.
Celebrate the living legend that is Patti LaBelle by watching her do her thing when you press play.