Patti LaBelle Honored as “Mother of the Year” in Philadelphia on Mother’s Day (or “Diva’s with a Heart” Diana Ross, Gladys Knight & Chaka Khan)

Last week I shot an amazing concert. It was in Philly, but the Philly Sound was in the house at Radio City Music Hall. Masons: This is a once in a lifetime event. The four Divas have never sung together and they are making history by singing together and in front of an orchestra. Join with us as we celebrate our Laboratory’s 50th Anniversary of helping humankind.(This shot that I took appeared in yesterday’s Inquirer announcing Patti Labelle being honored in Philadelphia by Radio One as “Mother of the Year” ) There’s a lot of other labels I would give her, hottie of the year, awesome singer of the year, inspiration of the year and someone I greatly admire. I have to admit one of the many benefits of being a celebrity photographer is getting to see amazing events and amazing people.
One thing I didn’t know about shooting at Radio City Music Hall is that it is an ordeal. Maybe if I had it all to do again I would just have paid the $200 to see the concert, but then again I wouldn’t have these awesome shots to share with you. After finally making my mind up to shoot it instead of watching it, I got credentialed at the last minute, that was easy part. We were to show up 2 hrs before the start time, which is the norm, and then the hard part. RCMH has their own rules and regulations about shooting, then the “Talent” has rules and regulations. Certain “Talent”, did I mention Miss Ross was on the bill?, didn’t want to be photographed from the orchestra pit like everyone else. She wanted to be photographed from the “RIGHT SIDE OF THE HOUSE” and only for 60 seconds. Well the photogs did not want to hear this, and they threatened to walk, the really big agencies, but I did not want to walk as I really wanted to see the concert. I have to say I was the lone hold out, because I am from Philly and I want to get Patty, as much as I want to see all of them perform. Finally better heads prevailed and we would be able to shoot Miss Ross for her entire song, but still only from the “Right side of the House” (that’s important for you to remember) Each women would sing 5 songs. We would shoot the first song, but for Miss Ross, we could only shoot the 3rd song.

First up – Miss Gladys Knight. OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG “Neither One of Us”; Gladys Knight was and is a phenomenon! The true embodiment of soul, blues, struggle and passion. “Midnight Train to Georgia” they were dancing in the aisle. Did I mention when you shoot at RCMH, or most concerts with multiple acts, you only shoot the first or second song, then you are ushered out. Well for this event it was just one song. We shot KNEELING in the row near the orchestra seats. Have you ever kneeled for 5 – 10 minutes on concrete, it was HORRIBLE and painful. Then after the song we were tapped on the should and had to run up the aisle before the next song started. Can you see how far the stage is, about a NYC block – LOL Then it was back down to shoot Chaka Khan; she started out with Chaka, Chaka, Chaka Kahn let me tell you. It was worth the pain, just so exciting to shoot these women and witness this historic event which benefited the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory, which celebrates 50 years of critical heart research this year.
Then the GODESS came out styling and singing. Thank you Donna Karan for this coat she sang. You know i was so into shooting her, I have no idea what she sang on the opening as I was overwhelmed with joy (I have seen Patti about a dozen times, but to get to shoot her at RCMH was too awesome for words, plus I was in a lot of kneeling pain.) After this song, as I was running to the back of the house, Patti talked about her life and career, which was not without tragedy. In July 1989, she lost her third sister Jackie to cancer. Patti’s two elder sisters had similar fates, with her oldest sister Vivian dying in 1977 (at the height of LaBelle’s success) and the second-eldest sister Barbara, dying in 1982 from colon cancer. Her brother, father and mother also passed away around the same time, making Patti the only living member of her extended family. As we got into position to shoot from “The Right Side Of the House, we started to walk down the ailse on the right side of RCMH. I heard Patti bring to the stage the Bluebelle’s, Sarah Dash and Non Hendryx (“Keep it Confidential” baby). They went into “Lady Marmalade”. Afterwards Labelle announced that she and and former groupmates have returned to the studio to work on a new album and will be touring this summer. (They have turned to a combination of old and new to help them mastermind their return to the charts; Philadelphia soul pioneers Gamble + Huff and rocker Lenny Kravitz) (So I am a little less pissed off at Miss Ross at this moment, because I wouldn’t have been able to sneak this photo from the back of the house)She was Motown’s brightest star, the one with guts enough and ambition enough to make her dreams come true, no matter where they took her. Rules that apply to others have never applied to Diana Ross. She won’t let them. CALL HER MISS ROSS and shoot her from the Right side of the HOUSE!!! Which is the “LEFT SIDE OF THE STAGE” – Stage Right, House Left, Stage Left, House Right,
Finally after 4 minutes into “Stop in the Name of Love” someone informed Miss Ross she was facing the wrong direction and we got a few photos

Miss Ross did not attend the press conference after the show. But I wasn’t complaining.

All in all, it was an amazing day, I am a wuss and had tears in my eyes for each and every performance. Thank you Miss Ross, Miss LaBelle, Chaka and Miss Gladys!