Patti LaBelle hasn’t released an album of new material since 2006, but as her longtime fans know, it barely matters what Miss Patti is singing.
The 69-year-old singer/actress/entrepreneur could sing the entire U.S. tax codes book and as long as her powerful, soulful theater rafter-shaking voice is in good form folks will listen.
LaBelle, who is performing at 8 p.m. Friday at the State Theatre at PlayhouseSquare in Cleveland, has not been touring much recently making this date an increasingly rare chance to see the diva live.
LaBelle has more than 50 years of music making from which to draw, going back to her days leading the Blue Belles into the spotlight with their 1962 hit Sold My Heart to the Junkman. In the ’70s, the group featuring Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash morphed into the flashy, funky LaBelle, which gave the world the No. 1 hit and go-to diva anthem Lady Marmalade.
LaBelle went solo in 1977 and appeared on Broadway in Your Arms Too Short to Box With God and had hits with The Best Is Yet to Come and If Only You Knew. She really blew up in the 1980s, becoming a gay icon with peppy ’80s synth-soul hits such as New Attitude and Stir It Up to go with her AIDS activism.
She spent much of the ’90s acting with roles on the television show A Different World as well as her own short-lived sitcom Out All Night, and she had more hits and won her second Grammy for her album Burnin.
More recently, LaBelle has diversified her brand with a line of Lady Marmalade hot sauces, which include flavors such as Super Woman and Hot Flash! LaBelle also appeared in the Tony Award-winning musical Fela in 2010, sang for the president during a 9/11 tribute and briefly re-formed LaBelle for an album called Back To Now and a tour.
With only four dates on her current 50th anniversary tour itinerary, LaBelle’s presence in Cleveland isn’t just another show. It’s also a benefit for Youth Opportunities Unlimited, a Northeast Ohio nonprofit organization that provides workforce preparation, job and internship placement and more for at-risk teens from ages 14 to 19 who live below the poverty line in Cuyahoga County.
The group has helped more than 150,000 youths since its founding in 1982, and in 2012 worked with more than 350 employers in Cuyahoga County.
Tickets to the State Theater concert are $35-$125 and are available at 216-241-6000 and www.playhousesquare.org.
Jazz @ the Civic
The Akron Civic Theater continues its commitment to showcase area artists with another edition of Jazz@the Civic featuring Cleveland contemporary jazz/R&B group Forecast at 8 tonight.
The group — vibist Lem Adams, saxophonist Riley Richard, keyboardist Alphonso McDuffie, bassist Gary Stevenson and drummer John Turner — mixes young, up-and-coming musicians with veterans and its set list mixes popular jazz and R&B tunes with its own toe-tapping originals.
Forecast has been performing in Northeast Ohio since the 1980s, earning opening spots for smooth jazz luminaries including Earl Klugh, Stanley Turrentine, Roy Ayers and Bob James.
Jazz @ the Civic uses the theater's cabaret setup, making the performance more intimate and the seating more limited. Tickets are $20 a piece, $30 for two and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.