Singer’s tour of mega-churches rolls into Detroit Dec. 1
DETROIT – Like most legendary soul sisters, two-time Grammy award winner Patti LaBelle started singing in church. But it’s taken her more than 40 years to release her first gospel album, “The Gospel According to Patti LaBelle.” Still, don’t make the mistake of referring to it as a return to the genre.
“I never left gospel,” LaBelle told Between The Lines. “I’ve always done gospel music. Whenever I would do a secular show there’d be one or two gospel songs in the show. So people can’t say that she’s coming home to gospel. She’s always been there.”
Still, she’s never quite been there in such a big way. In addition to the album, LaBelle is in the midst of a tour of mega-churches sponsored by Chrysler. Gay fans, don’t worry. Patti still loves you and she’s not planning on playing any churches that bash gays from the pulpit.
“That’s a very touchy subject to me, because I did speak about it in my first gospel concert, about how we cannot discriminate against white people, black people, poor people, rich people and especially gay people,” she said. “Half the church is full of gay people anyway. How are we gonna do that? That I don’t understand. We’re all God’s children and if you’re a real minister, and a real child of God, you’re going to accept anybody. And if you have problems with their way of life, speak to them. But don’t go behind their backs and say bad things about them. Say what you feel to the person you want to say it to, but to bash a group of people is totally not Patti’s style.
“I try to stay away from churches who don’t accept gays,” LaBelle continued. “I mean, I can’t be a part of phony. It’s not God’s way. You embrace all people. I think that’s what God wants, for all of us to love all of us, no matter who we are, what we do or whatever. And it’s not a sin to be gay. So that’s all I got to say. I have my feelings and I speak my mind.”
“The Gospel,” released Nov. 21 on Bungalo Records, features appearances by several of LaBelle’s good friends from both the gospel and the secular recording worlds including Yolanda Adams, Wynonna Judd, Patrice Rushen, Kanye West and CeCe Winans.
“Everybody donated their time, because all the proceeds are going to cancer research,” said LaBelle, who lost all three of her sisters to the disease and was the first of her siblings to live past 50. “So I’m not going to make any money from this project, which is wonderful. I just hope we sell enough product so that we can give a lot of money to cancer research.”
While Patti redid her classic “You Are My Friend” and offered her take on the traditional “Walk Around Heaven,” the rest of the album features original compositions written largely by LaBelle, herself, along with her production and writing partner Sami McKinney.
“He’s been writing with me and for me for maybe 10 or 15 years,” LaBelle said. “We just did a lot of stuff together. He did most of the producing on the album. I come up with great subjects and titles and then we start writing. We had fun. He comes and he stays with me, and we just get together and work on songs.”
Following her gospel tour, which is scheduled to run throughout the spring, LaBelle, who has released nearly 30 albums and earned eight gold records, is planning a reunion tour with former singing partners Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx of the group LaBelle.
Friday, Dec. 1
Greater Grace Temple in Detroit