Patti LaBelle, 74, Delivers Thrilling Performance of 'Call Me' at Aretha Franklin Tribute Concert
Rumors of a Patti Labelle-Aretha Franklin feud were once widespread, but over the weekend, it was all love as LaBelle paid tribute to her sister-in-soul who recently passed away.
The legendary soul singer joined more than a dozen other star artists to honor Franklin at the “Aretha! A Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul” concert in Los Angeles.
The groundbreaking show was taped in January but aired on March 10, and one of the highlights was Miss LaBelle’s rendition of Franklin’s 1970 hit tune “Call Me.”
Taking to the stage in a glittering black pantsuit and white cut-out blouse, the “Lady Marmalade” crooner knocked Franklin’s song out of the park in a hair-raising performance.
LaBelle, 74, took members of the audience to higher realms as she effortlessly hit and sustained several high notes, something the late Queen of Soul would most probably have applauded.
A DEEPER CONNECTION
Speaking to the cameras backstage, LaBelle opened up about her special attachment to “Call Me.”
“I’ve been touring for 55 years,” she began. “I always sing ‘Call Me.’ The end of the song that I sang tonight? I use it as my outro when I’m leaving the stage.”
LaBelle continued eulogizing the late music legend:
“You can’t challenge Aretha [Franklin]. You just go up there and pray that she loves you. Ain’t no challenging the queen, honey! She was a solid performer. She never stopped giving. She was the greatest singer in the world. To me, she’s my hero.”
WAS THERE A LABELLE-FRANKLIN FEUD?
During Franklin’s lifetime, both women engaged in light banter now and then in the press, prompting rumors of an existing feud.
Franklin shut down the speculations back in 2014, and when news of her death broke last August, LaBelle was one of the first artists to pay their respects on social media.
“I am deeply saddened about the passing of the Queen of Soul and my sister in song, Aretha Franklin. Today the world has experienced a tremendous loss,” she wrote in a Twitter statement. “My sympathy, love and prayers go out to her family, loved ones and fans around the globe.”
It was a touching tribute from a woman regarded herself as the Godmother of Soul, and even more emotional and soul-stirring was her rendition of Franklin’s “Call Me.”
TRIBUTE TO THE QUEEN
“Aretha! A Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul” was conceived by Franklin’s longtime collaborator and music mogul, Clive Davis and aired 15 days to what would have been the iconic singer’s 77th birthday.
Filmmaker Tyler Perry hosted the posthumous celebration which boasted an impressive lineup of star acts that paid tribute with one “Aretha Franklin” hit after another.
OFF TO A GREAT START
Jennifer Hudson kicked off the event with her rendition of two iconic “Aretha Franklin” tunes, "Respect" and "Think," while Fantasia Barrino teamed up with Rob Thomas for a duet of “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” originally recorded by Franklin and the late George Michael. She would later join Andra Day, Alessia Cara and Brandi Carlile to perform the 1967 hit track“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
RESPECTING HER ROOTS
Meanwhile, the trio of Yolanda Adams, Shirley Caesar, and BeBe Winans paid tribute to Franklin’s gospel roots with three of her evergreens, “Never Grow Old,” “Mary Don't You Weep,” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
Céline Dion, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, SZA, Common, and H.E.R. are some of the other music heavyweights that honored Franklin on the big night.
The Grammys tribute also featured a montage of messages about Franklin from several big names including Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, and former President Barack Obama.
Franklin passed away last August after a longtime battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.