Mom and I went to see Patti LaBelle in concert at the Paramount. The extraordinary, powerful, beautiful quality of her voice rocked the house. God blessed her with that amazing voice, and bingo, success. Right?
Listening to her made me think about what she had going for her in the first place. We’ve all got to start somewhere. We’ve got to have something to work with (and most of us, if we’re honest, know that we do).
Patti LaBelle started with that voice. And at some point I bet she said to herself something like, “I want to sing in front of an audience,” and proceeded to take steps to make that her reality. I am sure there were obstacles and challenges along the way that she did not anticipate. Probably a bit of luck came into play as well, and some supportive people, and I bet she worked hard when she would have rather taken it easy. She has no doubt had her own limitations, setbacks and heartaches, but at 73 is a phenomenal example of someone who kept going, doing the thing she loved over and over till she makes it look easy, giving a gift — the gift of her voice — to the public countless times. I stand in awe.
When you look at people like this — people with incredible talent, a loyal and highly competent team, seemingly boundless determination, vibrant energy — it’s easy to feel like Yeah, well, I could never be like that. It’s true. I will never be like that.
For one thing, there is only one amazing Patti LaBelle. We each walk a different road. But she did not get from being a young woman with a dream to being a highly successful, well known performer overnight. She got there one day at a time using the same 24 hours each day as everyone else has. She used them to build something good for herself and for others. She did not sit back waiting for things to happen that would further her dream, but instead “took the bull by the horns,” as we used to say.
I wish more people would look at what she did over time and continues to do every day instead of at what she has as a result of what she did over time and continues to do every day. Look at the action — and the determination, support and character defining it — instead of at the outcome. Look at the journey, admire the journey — not just the end point. For me, that outlook makes her performance so much fuller and richer.