“I was a shy little girl from West Philly. To go from shy Patti to Patti LaBelle Way is incredible," said the 75-year-old soul singer, regarded as one of the great singers of all time.

By Ian Horswill

Posted on July 9, 2019

It was meant to be a celebration to honour the remarkable career of soul singer Patti LaBelle, who is now 75 years old.

Philadelphia City Council put on a moving ceremony to honour one of their own with her own street.

Mayor Jim Kenney, Councillor Kenyatta Johnson, and Welcome America Inc. president and CEO Michael DelBene, gave loving speeches before Patti LaBelle was brought onto the stage. It was broadcast live on local radio.

“I want to thank all the people that have begged for this street,” she told the hundreds of people gathered before her. “If you woke up, never say you didn’t do anything. Work that day, honey.

“I never thought I would feel this way, this is the best I’ve felt since I gave birth to my Zuri, my son,” LaBelle said. “It’s all this love, it’s like so much honesty. People are honest and so many people say, ‘Patti, you should have gotten it a long time ago.’ I say ‘No I shouldn’t have, I should have gotten it now, now’s my time to get it.”

LaBelle was handed her street sign Patti LaBelle Way and sang the chorus of her 1983 hit “Love, Need, and Want You” which the crowd loved and joined in with.

“I never would’ve dreamed of this,” said LaBelle. “I was a shy little girl from West Philly. To go from shy Patti to Patti LaBelle Way is incredible.”

The incorrectly spelt street sign named in honour of Patti LaBelle. Photo: Twitter / Alex Holley

LaBelle, who is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Apollo Theatre Hall of Fame, is commonly known as the “Godmother of Soul”. Rolling Stone magazine named in her in the top 100 singers of all time. She has now changed career successfully making cakes and pies.

It was a great ceremony and it is only when the workers began putting up the signs did things go awry. Although LaBelle received a street plaque, correctly spelt, which she signed, the ones being put up were spelt incorrectly.

The city’s communications director Deana Gamble told the Philadelphia Inquirer the city council’s Streets Department is aware of the spelling error – the capital B in her surname is missing.

She said new signs would be put up next week.

Philadelphia also has streets named in the honour of aspirational people including Boyz II Men and non-Philadelphia local Muhammad Ali.