Singer. Born Patricia Louise Holte on May 24, 1944, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to parents Henry Holte, a railroad worker, and Bertha Robinson Holte, a homemaker. A shy girl, Patricia gained confidence through her singing, which she did every Sunday in the choir of Beulah Baptist Church in southwest Philadelphia. As a teenager, she began singing secular music with friend, Cindy Birdsong. The duo formed the Ordettes in 1959 and, a year later, signed on two more friends, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash. As the group experienced increasing success, Patricia’s parents allowed her to leave high school with her friends in order to go on tour.
Forever known as one of the original divas of R&B music, Patti LaBelle’s first taste of stardom came in 1962 when her group the Ordettes later renamed LaBelle was signed with Blue Note Records. Several years, tours, and record companies later, LaBelle became the first contemporary African-American act to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. In December of the following year their single Lady Marmalade was a 1 hit that continues to enjoy popularity today. In 1976 the group called it quits and went their separate ways, launching Patti into a highly successful solo career. Patti’s first 1 R&B hit as a solo artist was If You Only Knew in 1983. The hits have kept coming throughout the years, and Patti continues to record and tour today. In 2005 LaBelle was honored at Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball for her lifetime of achievement.
When Patti LaBelle learned she had diabetes after passing out onstage 14 years ago, the legendary singer said she thought that meant no more fun in the kitchen.
For years, the Grammy Award winner loved to whip up “twelve-egg potato salad, seven-cheese macaroni and all that stuff that I used to eat like crazy,” LaBelle, 64, tells PEOPLE. “I was hooked on fried chicken and pasta.”
Determined to get her diabetes in check, the singer completely revamped the way she cooked – and gave herself an attitude adjustment. “I said, ‘I’m not going to let it get me,’ ” says LaBelle, whose third cookbook, Recipes for the Good Life, comes out this month.
She still gives her meals “diva love,” but LaBelle sticks to recipes from her book’s Light and Healthy chapter. “Instead of frying my fish, like I used to do, I sauté it. I spice everything,” says the singer, who also has a line of spice blends. “Because I can’t use butter, these days I am a fresh garlic fanatic.”
While discussing her diabetes in an interview , Patti said, “I do manage it. It doesn’t manage me.” She adjusts her schedule on the road so that she can keep her diabetes in check, whether it’s taking pills on the plane or working out in the hotel gym.