Patti LaBelle is still really going strong. Not only is the R&B legend singing her heart out as she has throughout her long, illustrious career, but the multi Grammy winner also has a successful business venture with Wal-Mart, making a line of eponymous desserts. LaBelle’s sweet potato pie flew off the shelves over the holidays after a fan’s over-the-top review went viral on YouTube (4 million views and counting), and new flavors are forthcoming. We spoke to the gregarious songstress, who is based outside Philadelphia, before her trip to play the Adrienne Arsht Center Friday night.
Can you tell us about your concert in Miami?
I’m going to do a 75- to 90-minute show. We have a set list, but I never follow it. If I feel something in the moment or someone from the audience asks for something like Lady Marmalade or New Attitude or Over the Rainbow, I’ll turn around to my musical director, and say, ‘Hey, let’s do this one tonight.’ It’s like, planned, but I’m not going to stick to the plan. I’m just that outrageous, spontaneous lady!
Do you have any rituals before a gig?
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I don’t do the scales or anything like that. What we do is pray. The crew and the band, we get in our circle, then get out there and hope to touch someone’s soul.
So let’s talk about this sweet potato pie that has been driving the Internet crazy.
I’ve been cooking a long time. My mother and father had a great recipe that I put in my first cookbook [1999’s LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About], then Wal-Mart wanted me to come up with a special ingredient to make it a little different. This pie is so good you can eat it straight out of the box. Or you can heat it in the oven and put a little ice cream on the side. I’ll soon have an apple and cherry pie that are diabetic friendly, because I’m diabetic, you know. So we’re going to cover that.
You sure are busy. Besides touring and the food business, recent TV appearances include “American Horror Story,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “Empire.” How do you juggle it all?
My secret is waking up and thanking God that I have another day and that I have a job to do. I just hope I can please the public. I’ve been feeling pretty good lately; maybe it’s in the genes. I’m 71 and still moving, still doing it! I do walk a little. I play gin rummy with my best friend. It’s not an exciting life I have. Pretty quiet, really. Chill. But it’s a blessing, honey.
The concert, “Jazz Roots: Celebrating the Good Life with the Legendary Patti LaBelle,” begins at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets: arshtcenter.org 305-949-6722. Diners at BRAVA!, the center’s on-site restaurant, will receive a complimentary slice of Patti Labelle’s Sweet Potato Pie.