Entertainment

Undisputed Divas Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle to Face Off on Next ‘Verzuz’ Battle

Swizz Beatz, Timbaland Strike Gold with Sizzling Series for Hungry Fans in Age of COVID-19

If you thought the recent “Brandy vs. Monica” Verzuz battle, which aired on Sept. 1, made its mark as the “pièce de résistance” among a host of other notable slugfests that have featured Babyface vs. Teddy Riley, Fred Hammond vs. Kirk Franklin, Erykah Badu vs. Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg vs. DMX and Verzuz musical producers Swizz Beatz versus Timbaland, you’d have solid evidence behind you.
The “Brandy vs. Monica” showdown broke records on the three-hour Instagram livestream with 6 million views in total across all platforms.
But I think the next matchup slated for Sunday, Sept. 13 between legendary singers Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle will break new ground and shatter the current record of views set by Monica and Brandy – the former star of “Moesha” being one of the most talented and humblest people I’ve ever met and who always makes time for this reporter whenever she comes to the DMV.
I’ve seen Gladys, both with and without the Pips, more times than I can remember – most recently here in the DMV in June 2017 – and she was stellar as always. When she sat alone on stage, illuminated by a single spotlight and sang her remake of Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were,” a wave of emotion swept over this writer that evoked a steady stream of tears. Still, I will forever cherish childhood memories of the “Empress of Soul,” having grown up just blocks away from her family’s home in northwest Detroit where her mother held center court and where Gladys frequently opened up her backyard to neighborhood boys like me for late night basketball games, spaghetti and Kool-Aid.
My top 10 favorites of Gladys Knight’s songs, in no particular order:
“Neither One of Us,” “If I Were Your Woman,” “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “I Feel a Song,” “The Way We Were/Try to Remember,” “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination,” “You’re Number One (In My Book),” “Landlord,” “Save the Overtime (for Me)” and “Love Overboard.”
Patti LaBelle first came on my radar during her years as the lead singer for Labelle when, in 1974, they topped the charts with “Lady Marmalade.” Who could ever forget that scintillating phrase from the song, “voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?” Some may be surprised by this piece of musical folklore: one of Patti’s signature songs, “Over the Rainbow,” was first performed in the 60s when the trio was then known as Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles.
And while the group was nothing short of superb, bringing an array of costumes to the stage that had no equal and with intricate harmonies that few could hope to match, Patti’s decision to go solo brought her even more success. The last time this writer sat in the presence of the diva was June 2017 here in the DMV. I was so determined to see her up close and personal that I purchased two front row tickets which were not cheap – passing on the press tickets that would have placed me further back in the concert’s venue than I desired. And she did not disappoint, kicking off her shows as has long been her tradition and taking flight with her soaring voice into the stratosphere.
My top 10 favorites of Patti LaBelle’s songs, in no particular order:
“If Only You Knew,” “Lady Marmalade,” “Over the Rainbow,” “If You Asked Me To,” “Somebody Loves You Baby,” “When You’ve Been Blessed,” “I Can’t Make You Love,” “You Are My Friend” and “Superwoman” with Gladys Knight and Dionne Warwick.
Who will win the battle? Let’s wait and see. But one thing’s for sure, these two sisters will take us to the park for summer madness, to the nightclub for couples only on the dance floor, back in time for one of those unforgettable house parties with the blue lights in the basement and then, naturally, to church.
Three hours of Patti and Gladys? It can’t get much better!
The two singing legends battle it out at 8 p.m. ET at The Fillmore in Philadelphia.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Award-winning journalist and 21-year Black Press veteran, book editor, voice-over specialist and college instructor (Philosophy, Religion, Journalism). Before joining us, he led the Miami Times to recognition as NNPA Publication of the Year.

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