Witty Patti LaBelle does it her way

PATTI LABELLE'S performance at Sun City at the weekend will be remembered more for her antics and her big mouth than her actual singing.

PATTI LABELLE'S performance at Sun City at the weekend will be remembered more for her antics and her big mouth than her actual singing.

The visibly tired R&B superstar more than punctuated her songs with speaking, relating her life story to her fans. She opened the show by greeting the half-full Superbowl in Sesotho, saying: "Dumelang. Ke a le rata." (Hello, I love you).

Then she introduced herself: "I am 65 years old, I am menopausal, divorced, diabetic and a diva. I don't wear stockings so if you're in the front row brace yourself.

"I am so tired. We didn't sleep last night (in Cape Town) after the show. We messed up in the hotel lobby.

"And then they wanted to take my insulin at the airport and we flew for two or three hours. My eyes are red, I haven't had much sleep. I love you here, but you gotta get the altitude right."

Dressed in an unflattering black dress stopped above her knees, LaBelle had revellers in stitches with her humour. After two songs she limped onto the stage.

"Something is wrong with my ankle. I am wearing 7-inch heels, you see, I am a girl that never stops trying."

She said she was in South Africa two years ago for the opening of Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Girls and she went to Soweto and sang in the streets.

"There was dust and things on my face but I didn't care and tonight I am gonna sing for you," she said.

Her voice and technique cannot be faulted. She did songs that have been popularised by younger musicians and kept saying: "Don't get it twisted. I did it first."

These included If You Ask Me To (also sung by Celine Dion), Love, Need and Want You (sampled by Nelly and Kelly Rowland on Dilemma in 2002) and Lady Marmalade (Pink, Christina Aguilera, Mya and Lil Kim for the 2001 film Moulin Rouge soundtrack).

Accompanied by a 10-piece band, mirror in hand, eight pairs of heels decorating the black piano, LaBelle's only costume change was the shoes, from heels to pumps and back to heels.

She was frank about events in her life.

"I was married for 32 years and last year I decided to go on my own. We talked about it and he left. If you don't get along, just walk. I recorded this song with Michael McDonald and now I am singing it for me," she said as she belted out On My Own.

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