Politics and Progress With Patti LaBelle 

The last time girl-group Labelle dropped an album, the thought of a black president or same-sex marriage seemed as “far-out” as the band’s disco-spacewoman suits and fusion of disco, rock, and soul. But the button-pushing, soul-singing trio has reunited, and on the heels of Prop. 8 passing and Barack Obama being elected president, Patti LaBelle talks to The Advocate about the mix of emotions she's dealt with over the past few weeks.

BY Matt Bell

November 20 2008 1:00 AM ET

 PATTI LABELLE X100 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

Did you ever think you’d see America vote for a
black president? What were you doing that night?
Yes. I was sitting on the edge of my bed, afraid
to watch because I thought there would be some
trickery. Even though I knew Obama should get it, I
kept thinking that someone was going to trick him out of it.
I turned it on and off over and over, and when it was
finalized that Obama won, I didn’t move. I just
silently cried and said, "Thank you, Lord, there is
hope." It’s the most wonderful night I’ve had
in my life… Well, one of the most. So I think
good things for the gay community can happen. If Obama
can happen, things can happen for the gays as well.
Obama is for the world. He is the new hope for the world. I
was in Canada and it was like he was their president.

It does seem like the perfect time for Labelle to
tour, time to celebrate. Will this be a final farewell,
or is this the beginning of something new for Labelle?
This is the beginning. There should be more
albums and more tours! I’m no one-hit wonder.
And Verve, the record company, is behind us. We plan to
keep on going as long as we can.

Labelle is known for flamboyant concert costumes.
Should we be expecting anything crazy this time around?
How much of these crazy looks are from your input?
To be honest with you, I don’t know what
I’m wearing tomorrow night! At the Apollo
Theater, I’ll have something outrageous made.
I’m very involved in what I wear. We go to the
designer to get me the sketches and then we have to go
see the muslin and then make the judgments. I don’t
just let anyone make something for me. I have to work with
them through the process.

You and Jennifer Hudson became fast friends after
you met at the 2007 GLAAD Media Awards. Have you heard
from her? How is she doing?
She called for me three times and I was out of
reach. When her assistant finally got me on the phone,
Jennifer just said, “I can’t talk to Mama
Patti right now.” It had to be so crazy for her. When
she’s ready she’ll talk to me herself,
but I’m reaching out and praying for her.

How do you find the energy to keep going -- to keep working? I am tired, but I do it because I can. It
hasn’t gotten so bad that I can't sing or
dance, but I do have to give myself Patti time. And me,
I’ve got 18 jobs -- I’m like a Jamaican!
It’s like every day I say I have to take off
next week! I just have to get away.

But you've kept doing it. You don’t have to
keep working. What drives you?
My people! And really, the offers come in every
day and I just like to say yes because I can. I can
complain about my being tired, but it’s my
fault.

-- Back to Now
is in stores now. For more information on
Labelle visit
www.labelleisback.com.

Tags: Music

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