Ms. Patti speaks with The Philadelphia Inquirer

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dennis, Mar 14, 2015.

  1. Dennis Dennis Shook

    Even Philadelphians with no interest in ABC’s reality competition show, “Dancing with the Stars” (DWTS), may feel a bit of excitement, or at least curiosity at the prospect of home girl and two-time Grammy winner Patti LaBelle competing on the 20th season of “Dancing with the Stars,” marking the 10-year anniversary of the show. LaBelle will be partnered by pro dancer Artem Chigvintsev.
    When we left the dance floor last season, the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy was being held aloft by jubilant winner Alfonso Ribeiro and his partner Witney Carson. However, there have been some changes in the ballroom this season, with fan favorite Cheryl Burke having retired her dancing shoes, and sassy series regular, Karina Smirnoff conspicuously missing from the cast.
    Five-time champion Derek Hough, an Emmy Award winner, was expected to be a no-show, having signed on to choreograph and perform in the Spring Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall for seven weeks. However, it was recently announced that Hough will be pulling double duty, returning to DWTS to partner Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Nastia Liukin.
    Hitting the “reset” button will be Keo Motsepe, the first Black professional dancer to compete on the show. Motsepe’s debut in season nine was cut short when he and his lovely, but surprisingly lackluster partner, three-time Olympian Lolo Jones, were the first couple to be eliminated. Hopefully Motsepe will fare better with his current partner, 21-year-old model and actress Charlotte McKinney, but judging from the body language in their publicity photos, there doesn’t appear to be much chemistry.
    “I’m nervous! I’m very nervous!” Patti LaBelle admitted when I spoke to her recently. “And I think that goes with the territory when you’re doing something for the first time in your life — professional dancing — you’d better be nervous! Don’t take anything for granted like that. That’s not my calling. I’m a singer, so I’m a little nervous. I’m going to get over it though!”
    LaBelle had declined several invitations to be on the show, but cited her age as the reason she finally accepted the offer.
    “Being 70 years young, I said, ‘You know, at 70, you have to do everything! Don’t let anything scare you. Don’t be afraid of failure, don’t be afraid of anything! Just go out there and do it!’ because I’ve been asked so many times, I said, ‘I’m going to finally say yes!
    “When I said, yes, [my son] Zuri called me back the next day and said, ‘Mom, are you sure?’ I said, ‘Zuri, I’m really serious!’ He said, ‘Okay, I’m gonna make that call, because they’ve been calling a lot.’ I said, ‘Well, just tell them I said, ‘Yes!’”
    Despite the understandable case of nerves, LaBelle feels that she and Artem are ready to take on the competition and said, “We’re doing much better each day it progresses to be better. We’ve changed steps — I thought we would change steps in the mix to make it easier for me, but we’ve added steps! So I’m going along with Artem. He’s professional, I’m just the lady that said, ‘Yes!’”
    LaBelle revealed that she will begin the competition with the Foxtrot, appropriately performed to “Lady Marmalade,” the number R&B/pop smash hit by her former group, Labelle.
    LaBelle, who is receiving lots of encouragement and advice from her longtime friend Gladys Knight, who also competed on DWTS, disclosed that she is maintaining her normal concert schedule while rehearsing with Artem.
    “Friday and Saturday, Artem went with me to Mississippi and Alabama, and he came onstage and we danced to ‘Lady Marmalade’ and did our little Foxtrot,” she said. “I continue to work with my shows and with this, so I’m allowed to do whatever. I wouldn’t have said ‘yes’ if it was a total shutdown of what my life is.”
    While LaBelle is thrilled about competing on the show, as well as her appearance in the season finale of “Empire” on March 18, her greatest joy comes from the recent arrival of her granddaughter, Gia Patricia Edwards, born to son Zuri and his wife.
    “She’s beautiful! She was seven pounds, two ounces,” said the proud grandmother. “The hour that I predicted on ‘Good Morning America,’ she was born that hour! I have a grandchild with my adopted son [Dodd Stocker Edwards], but this is my first ‘blood’ baby.”
    In addition to LaBelle, this season’s intriguing “DWTS” cast also includes collegiate football standout Michael Sam, who recently made headlines as the first openly LGBT player to be drafted in any major American sport. Sam is partnered with the vivacious and flirtatious Peta Murgatroyd, who won season 14 with NFL star Donald Driver. patti-3.jpg

Share This Page