Valentine’s Day with Patti LaBelle If ever there was a time to look your absolute best, to step out in high-style donning your most expensive fur and underneath dressed to the nines, a Valentine’s Day Patti LaBelle concert is it! While a Winter Storm Warning loomed over Nashville outside, cars were lining downtown blocks with people hoping to get in on the action, and inside the Schermerhorn Nashville Symphony Center, baby, the heat was on! The one and only Patti LaBelle, the Original Diva, did not disappoint in her 70th year Platinum Tour. That’s right, she’s 70! - but, you wouldn’t know it while watching her as she graced the stage on the evening of February 14th to lovingly express how dedicated she is to performing and to never slowing down. At one point during her show she kicked her shoes high into the air, soulfully singing, “I changed my clothes for you, even bought a new pair of shoes!” She invited men who literally lined the stage to share their heartfelt versions of Lady Marmalade and one gentleman, in the presence of Miss Patti Patti, as she calls herself, serenaded her with vocal skills so over-the-top that you might’ve thought he was one of her backup singers. We certainly got the impression that this was the moment he had been waiting for all his life and was determined not to let it slip away. For many of us it absolutely was that moment, with the crowd cheering non-stop, except during her slower songs, where Patti LaBelle reminded us that she is in full command with her soft-sweeping, pitch-perfect, impressive octave range and every spirit in the house hung onto every note; there were emotional ups and downs to be had, along with reminders of what makes her a household name. I basked in the far-reaching ambiance of this living legend and wished my mother had agreed to experience Patti LaBelle in my place. I intended for my brother, who is polishing off his Masters Degree and working full-time teaching to escort my mother to the soirée, as I felt that Patti LaBelle is more likely his soulmate than mine. However, with his work overload coming due and my mother’s insistence that I go in her place and enjoy, I realized why it might be too much for her. Before my Grandmother’s passing, those would have been tickets for the two of them, as my mother wanted to take Grandma to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. As I got lost in the sultry stylings of Patti LaBelle’s voice I could feel my Grandmother’s presence within the grand room and even felt compelled to share my mother’s story of how she took care of her until she passed at almost 91 years old with an usher during intermission. My Grandmother had seen Patti LaBelle in concert decades ago, but with this being Patti’s 70th Anniversary Platinum Tour we all felt the magnitude of that moment. It was emotional, with one such emotion prominently standing out to me more than any, not solely because it was Valentine’s Day. Yes, love was in the air, indeed, as one man near me stood up multiple times to profess his unyielding love to Patti LaBelle, broadcasting that he wanted her to take her time, to which none in the audience could disagree, and promised her that he’s on his way to be with her. “I love You” echoed off the walls throughout the night multiple times and as much from the star herself. To be sure, while being in the presence of Patti LaBelle is that kind of serious business, she is also a real woman and down-to-Earth. At one point, she talked to her audience casually about a collaboration with greats Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross. However, if that seemed intimidating, when one gentleman stepped on her feet during his overture of Lady Marmalade, she complimented him, saying, “It was good and all, but you stepped on my corns - get out of here!” The crowd roared and with a laugh he hopped off stage to continue his appreciation for this woman who continues to bless the world with real music at a time when our options are so few and far-between. Not for the throwing of her microphone stand down rocker-style or owning the stage everywhere, this multi-talented woman’s incredibly powerful energy is mostly found in her ability to pierce the hearts of men AND women. She nonchalantly shared deeply personal experiences, like her divorce to her husband of over thirty years as her lead-in to “On My Own” and held a bouquet of flowers close to her as if someone had just given her the Hope Diamond. If not for the way the light caught her own layers upon dazzling layers of sparkling diamonds on her wrist as she held her hand high in the air you might’ve thought - as a single, successful, independent woman - that you were just having a conversation with a girlfriend during cocktail hour… One who happens to be currently performing at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, one who has sold over 50 million albums worldwide, one who has a Grammy-winning multi-platinum suite of songs, who has a music career spanning more than fifty years and one who has a star on the Hollywood Walk-of-Fame… Who are we kidding, this is the Diva. This is Patti LaBelle.