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This week, legendary singer Patti LaBelle made a triumphant return to Broadway in the Tony Award winning musical After Midnight.

This summer, multi-award winning icons LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole join the illustrious roster of special guest star vocalists in After Midnight. Combined, this trio of legends boasts 22 platinum and gold records, 18 Grammy Awards, and almost 300 million albums sold worldwide.

70-year-old LaBelle opened up to theGrio.com’s Chris Witherspoon about her illustrious career in music and Hollywood spanning 5 decades.

LaBelle revealed that nearly four years ago. she had a bought with depression and lost her voice.

“It left me for a minute … my voice,” LaBelle said. “But it’s back full circle now.”

“I was nervous for about a year,” she added. “Maybe I just didn’t want to put it out then…. sort of depression.”

LaBelle’s received rave reviews from Broadway critics since beginning her stint in After Midnight, taking the reins from former American Idol singer Fantasia Barrino, whom LaBelle affectionately calls “baby Patti.”

“[Fantasia’s] just a baby me,” LaBelle says. “When you see yourself in someone else, you say, ‘God I’m 70, she’s 30,’ so she’s like the Patti Labelle from back in the day and everything and she’s so raw.”

The “If Only You Knew” singer says she’s been in Fantasia’s corner throughout her often rocky career.

“I would talk to [Fantasia] all the time about the babies and the father and all that jazz about people talking bad about her. I said, ‘But you’re human. You’re allowed do whatever you did; just don’t do it again.’ And she won’t. She’s a smart girl.”

Patti LaBelle will star in After Midnight from June 10 – 29, Gladys Knight July 8 – August 3, and Natalie Cole August 5 – 31 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Chris Witherspoon’s interview with Patti LaBelle. She details her influence on some of today’s biggest pop stars, including Beyoncé and Rihanna.

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter @WitherspoonC.

 

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