patti-labelle_web.jpgIt’s not every day that your phone rings and the legendary Patti Labelle is on the other end of the line!

“I make my own calls,” the singer quipped when she called me last week from her Philadelphia home for our scheduled telephone interview.

Surely, one would think that one of her “people” would make the call, and then put Ms. Patti on the phone.

“Everybody thinks that,” she said.

But if you’ve ever seen or heard her, you would know this behavior falls right in line with the soulful music veteran’s persona. To fans, she’s more like your best girlfriend, your sister-friend, and a mother figure all rolled into one. She’s earned the title of a bona-fide diva, yet she doesn’t act like one.

“I’ve been doing this 49 years now. And that has made me grow into the woman I am. I think the people care for me and respect me because they know I’ve been through the storm,” she said convincingly.

It’s when she hits the stage that she lets it all out!  Friday, April 30, will be no different when she performs at SunFest, West Palm Beach’s premier, five-day music festival, which runs April 28 – May 2. 

“You know, I’m very spontaneous. Expect a great show — a lot of interaction with the audience.”
Fans can be prepared for the spectacular and should expect the unexpected. At a “Patti Show” you never know what you’re going to get, she cautioned. 

With this dynamic woman, every feeling, every emotion, and all her convictions come spilling out during her performances —  so don’t be stunned to  see her rolling on the floor, kicking off her heels, or crying with an audience member.     

But the amazing Ms. Labelle is not the only show-stopper on the ticket. The other headliner joining Labelle on April 30 is the incomparable Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly.

Although SunFest organizers say both artists are considered headliners, Ms. Labelle will lead the way with her performance at 7:30 p.m., and Maze will follow at 9:30 p.m. Labelle says she wouldn’t want it the other way around.

“I couldn’t follow Frankie Beverly,” she insisted.  “He’s phenomenal.”

Following him, she said, would be like “following God.”

About half way through our interview, someone gestured to her to end our conversation and move on to her next appointment. But Patti Labelle does what Patti Labelle wants. She ignored the gesture and continued talking to me for another 15 minutes. By the time we finished talking, I felt like I’d made a new friend.

“Make sure you say something to me at the concert, you hear me?” she said to me in parting.  

It’s not what I expected to hear from a true legend. But this diva is as down to earth as your closest sister friend! 

Other artists slated to perform include Sean Kingston on May 1 at 9:45 p.m., and Nas and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley on May 2 at 3:30 p.m. For the complete SunFest line-up and schedule featuring over 45 artists, go to


Photo: Patti LaBelle


WHAT: SunFest, a five-day music festival.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 28 to Sunday, May 2.

WHERE: Downtown West Palm Beach along Flagler Drive.

COST: From $32 for a one-day pass; $50 for two-day pass.

Reserved seats available for additional charge. General admission, bring lawn chairs, blankets. Tickets available @ 1-800-SUNFEST or