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Relive The Moment: Kelly Price On Patti Labelle, Prince And Why ESSENCE Festival Is The Best Music Party In The World

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Kelly Price
Photo Credit: Michael Rowe

When we asked Kelly Price to relive her favorite moment from ESSENCE Festival she couldn't narrow it down to just one. And since her moments are so monumental we gave her an open forum to talk about them all.

The festival moment that I want to relive is actually my first time coming to the [ESSENCE] festival. It was the year that Luther Vandross was scheduled to headline and he suffered a stroke that year. Instead of canceling his set, they pulled in a bunch of artists to work with his band and background singers and do his set for him and I was a part of the conglomerate of artists that did that. Which was amazing.

I had a lot of amazing moments inside that experience because there were so many great artists that hit the stage that night. Gerald Levert was there. Patti LaBelle was there. Patti LaBelle who I sang with was on stage. One funny moment when we were in rehearsal singing one of the songs and she got to a part where she started—and I don’t know why I did this in hindsight that was the dumbest thing in the world—she started singing something other than what the words were and I whispered to her what the words were and she said to me ‘Girl I don’t need to know the words because if I don’t know the words then I’m just ‘gon start doing this!’ and she started flapping her arms when she gets excited and she said ‘They ain’t ‘gon care about me knowing the words when I get to flapping! Nobody cares!’ I said ‘Yes ma’am!’ [LAUGHS] So that was lesson number one. Dummy! Don’t tell Patti LaBelle the words to the song. She don’t have to know the words. That was a great moment.

A second moment standing in the wings, just about to go out on the stage and Prince is sitting off to the side and he tapped me and I looked over and he said ‘I really love the way you sing.’ I could’ve peed but I couldn’t because I had to go on stage seconds later. You know what? All of my festival moments are amazing to me. For me it is the best music party in the world. It really is. It’s the best music party in the world. And anybody who hits the ESSENCE Festival stage is about their craft because you gotta be about your craft to hit the stage. The audience is too savvy. They know what they want. They know what they’ve come to expect. You have to have your stuff together to hit an ESSENCE stage. That's what I love because aside from being a musician and a singer and a songwriter I’m very much so a fan of music. I want to be excited about other artists’ albums coming out. I’m still very much so that and ESSENCE gives me that on both sides.

Be sure to get Kelly Price's new album Sing, Pray, Love Vol. 1 on June 3 here.