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Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight Both Turn 75

These two R&B legends have much in common: gorgeous voices, iconic recordings and (almost) the same birthdays.

A couple of the incredible singers whose music we can’t resist have big birthdays coming right up!

On May 24, Patti LaBelle (who was born Patricia Louise Holte) gets to blow out 75 candles on her birthday cake. Her fame began in the early 1960s when she was lead singer of Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, which was renamed Labelle a decade later. What else happened a decade after the group’s inception? The song “Lady Marmalade,” that’s what. It was a gigantic hit, thanks to Patti’s incredible vocals and the then-scandalous lyrics, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?”

Gladys Knight & Patti LaBelle: R&B Icons and (Almost) Birthday Twins | NextTribe

Patti LaBelle belting it out on Mother’s Day 2019 at the LA Forum. Image: Patti LaBelle/Instagram

Not long after that huge success, Patti went solo and served up such staples as “New Attitude” and, with everyone’s favorite Doobie Brother Michael McDonald, the song “On My Own.” A two-time Grammy winner and Grammy Hall of Famer, she’s sold over 50 million albums over her 50-plus year career but has also branched out and tackled new challenges. She’s appeared on such shows as A Different World, the Voice, and Dancing with the Stars and performed on Broadway in Fela! and After Midnight. A mother of one, Patti also has a side hustle going—her line of desserts, such as sweet potato pie, for Walmart called Patti’s Good Life.

Read More: What Do Diana Ross and Gloria Steinem Have in Common?

Empress of Soul

Gladys Knight & Patti LaBelle: R&B Icons and (Almost) Birthday Twins | NextTribe

Gladys Knight doing the National Anthem justice at Super Bowl LIII in 2019. Image: Gladys Knight/Instagram

On the 28th of May, Gladys Knight (a.k.a. the “Empress of Soul”) hits the three-quarters of a century mark. Few women our age don’t know “Midnight Train to Georgia” word for word (it was one of two number-one Billboard hits she scored; the other is “That’s What Friends Are For”). With her gorgeous, emotionally rich vocals, she also earned 11 number-one R&B singles, six number-one R&B albums, and seven Grammy Awards, including one for the heartbreaking “Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye.)” Last, but not least, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with The Pips.

Few women our age don’t know ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ word for word.

While her career was skyrocketing, Gladys was dealing with the ups and downs of her personal life. Married four times (she was only 16 the first time she wed), she raised three kids, survived a bitter custody battle, and overcame a gambling addiction while being noted for her work as the co-owner of a community center and for raising funds for children’s learning centers with husband William McDowell.

To both of these women with stunning, stellar voices, we say a huge Happy Birthday!

Read More: A Personal Tribute to Peggy Lipton, Gone Too Soon

By Janet Siroto


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