What a week Patti Labelle has had. Thanks to a review of her Wal-mart sweet potato pie that has now gone viral, the legendary singer’s name (and her pies) is all everyone’s talking about. This Sunday, she appears on Oprah’s Master Class to dish on her 50-year career and share some valuable life lessons. She spoke with ESSENCE about her pies, living with the death of her three sisters, and her secret to a fabulous life.
So how can we get our hands on a Patti Pie?
I wish I could help you! They are not to be found.
Everyone’s talking about them.
It’s been so overwhelming and so wonderful. I’m thanking God for all of these blessings. In September, when the pies went into stores, they sold like crazy. And then James Wright did his video, and then they started going a pie a second. Now they’re not sold out everywhere. We’re told that if you just call Wal-mart, you’ll find out when they might have them.
You called James earlier this week. What did you talk about?
I called him from London, right before my show at Wembley Stadium to say ‘Thank you so much for all your love.’ I love his voice, and his personality, and how he loved that damn pie.
Do you have any plans to meet him?
I’m going to meet him soon. I did send him flowers and a teddy bear yesterday. I don’t take these blessings for granted, and when they come I say thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’m guessing Patti Pies will be on your Thanksgiving table.
If I can get two Patti pies, I’ll be doing good.
You’re appearing on Oprah’s Master Class this Sunday where you share some real wisdom, and also a lot of details about your life. At one point you talk about the heartbreak of losing all three of your sisters, Vivian, Barbara and Jackie to cancer. [Below, Labelle recalls how Jackie asked her to make her an egg sandwich. She refused, citing exhaustion from being on the road. Jackie died shortly after.]
We take advantage of our time with loved ones when they’re going through that, because you think tomorrow will always happen. It’s like something you can’t replace in your spirit.
You also talk about your marriage and divorce from your ex-husband Armstead Edwards, who now lives 10 minutes away from you.
He lives right around the corner. We’ve been separated, divorced, for, like, 14 years. We’re best of friends now. We fell out of love. We didn’t fall out of like, though. We like each other a lot.
You also talk about the idea that when you come on stage it’s just your voice. There are no props or tracks, you say.
No, I don’t have any dancers or extra singers or props around me. When you come to see a Patti LaBelle show, you’re going to see all Patti LaBelle. No dancers and people flipping stuff. It’s not going to be predictable. My shows are never predictable. I can do three shows in a row, but each show will happen different. So, I’m not that gimmick girl. No gimmicks around Ms. Patti.
Do you feel like it’s harder for young singers these days? Do they need the gimmicks?
Yes, because most of them don’t have any talent, they can’t sing. So, they better use the gimmicks. Let’s keep it real. I’m 71 and I’m not going to start lying now. The thing is, they know who they are. There are a lot of young singers who don’t need props, and who have beautiful voices and who can just do it on their own.
You’re a hoot!
I know I’m a hoot! Whenever you finish talking to Patti, you’re going to say, ‘Oh, she was honest, to a fault, maybe.’ I don’t care; I’m going to be honest.
On Master Class you said, ‘Nobody loves me more than I love me.’
No, that’s impossible for anybody to do that. I love me so much now; I think I would marry me. That’s how much I love me. There were times when I didn’t love me this much, but I love me so much now.
What’s the secret to a fabulous life?
Every morning I get up and say thank you dear God for another day, make my feet go the right direction. Hopefully I won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. I try to, you know, I tread lightly, and I don’t walk over people, I don’t get rid of people. I lead a straight, straight life and if you do something wrong you’re going to get rid of yourself. You know, I believe in being real with people and honest, and taking care of people. That’s sometimes my downfall, yeah, but I’m good.
Oprah’s Master Class airs this Sunday, November 22 at 8p ET/PT on OWN.