Patti LaBelle isn’t ready to drop the mic — or the rolling pin.
The “Lady Marmalade” singer turns 73 next month, and at an age when some are taking up knitting and slowing down, she’s got a booming pie business at Walmart and both an album and a new cookbook in the oven.
“Desserts LaBelle: Soulful Sweets to Sing About” hits bookshelves April 25, and her first studio album in a decade, “Bel Hommage,” is out May 5.
“People always say, ‘You’re still touring at 73?’ I say, ‘I’m never going to stop,’” LaBelle says of balancing book signings and upcoming performances.
So it’s safe to say that retirement is off the table for now.
The Godmother of Soul — and sweets, even though she’s diabetic — reveals the recipe for her sweet potato pie, the dessert that went viral in 2015, in her new book.
The craze started when a super-fan, James Wright, tried one of her sweet potato pies sold at Walmart and posted a review on YouTube — literally singing its praises. The video got more than 5 million views. And slices of the pie, which sell for under $4 at Walmart, were being resold for upwards of $60 on eBay.
“I said, ‘Oh goodness, I’m selling more pies than records,’” says Labelle, who calls it the Patti Pie Phenomenon — or PPP for short — in her new cookbook.
So she expanded her line of sweets, called Patti’s Good Life.
Even now, LaBelle’s other Walmart desserts, like Apple Cobbler ($6.98), are being auctioned off for $30.
In addition to her sweet potato pie, she also divulges decadent recipes for cakes, cookies, cobblers and custards in her book, like Cherry Crumble Pie, Lemon Meringue Cake, and a Raspberry Pie.
Even the Obamas have tried LaBelle’s sweets.
“They love them,” she gushes.
For home bakers trying to master her Sweet Potato Pie, LaBelle advises buying small- to medium-sized sweet potatoes that have “smooth, unbruised skin,” and suggests microwaving them instead of boiling to save time.
LaBelle has played it by ear on stage — like the time she had to adlib an entire Christmas song during a 1996 White House performance thanks to a cue card mishap — and in the kitchen.
“It’s boring to cook something the same exact way each time,” says LaBelle, whose music career began in the early 1960s, when she fronted the female singing group, Labelle.
So sometimes she tops her tangy lemon bars with tangerines instead of lemons.
“I turn the beat around,” the R&B diva quips. “I guess I’m the adlib queen.”
LaBelle’s had a lot on her plate in recent years — including appearances on “American Horror Story” in 2014, “Empire” in 2015, and a stint as an adviser for contestants on “The Voice” last year — and she’s even made time to demonstrate her culinary talent on the small screen.
In 2015, the Cooking Channel special “Patti LaBelle’s Place” featured celebrity guests like rapper 50 Cent, and TV personalities Whoopi Goldberg and Carla Hall helping her whip up some of her favorite recipes.
LaBelle has long been a fan of 50 Cent – sge got down to his hit “In da Club” on “Dancing With The Stars” – so she couldn’t resist extending the invite.
“I knew he wasn’t a great cook,” Labelle dishes. “I said, ‘You’re the sous chef.’”
She taught him how to make slow-cooked brisket, mashed potatoes and fried corn.
LaBelle’s first cookbook, “ LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About,” came out nearly two decades ago, but the singer has been cooking since long before then.
She made dinner for Elton John back the mid-1960s when she used to perform with her band at nightclubs in London. She’d make feasts for the rocker, who at the time was still known by his real name, Reginald Dwight, and sent him home with leftovers. LaBelle still hasn’t forgotten that he took home her Tupperware.
“I never got it back, but he gave me a diamond ring,” she says.
Then there was the time she made short ribs and peach cobbler for The Rolling Stones when they came to her native city Philadelphia.
But she always makes time for first love — music.
The two-time Grammy Award winner’s latest album is an ode to jazz, a genre the singer initially had some hesitation about tackling.
“I was afraid to attack jazz music because it was something I never did,” she admits.
“Bel Hommage” honors late legends like Lena Horne and Frank Sinatra.
LaBelle isn’t a fan of much of today’s music, except for alternative R&B singer, The Weeknd.
“I don’t like a lot of it. Most of the music is redundant,” she says of tunes that repeat the song title over and over in the lyrics.
“I find that a lot of kids are getting away with it,” LaBelle adds. “I say good luck to them, they got away with one line. I’m not going to listen to it.”