As part of NPR Music’s Black History Month celebration, the accomplished, pioneering Patti LaBelle is the latest artist to take the Tiny Desk stage with a legendary 15-minute compilation performance of her greatest hits.
Quickly setting the tone with 1986’s “Something Special (Is Gonna Happen Tonight),” the 77-year-old glided through the various eras of her career with hits like 1983’s “Love, Need and Want You,” giving a nod to Nelly and Kelly Rowland’s “Dilemma,” even though we’re personally partial to Lloyd’s “Lay It Down.” She went on to breathe new life into 1983’s “If Only You Knew,” and briefly referenced her popular holiday meme about her missing background singers before ending her set with 1974’s “Lady Marmalade” and taking a moment to honor the late Sarah Dash—the co-founder of Labelle who died last September at the age of 76.
LaBelle was one of several first-time Tiny Desk performers. Earlier this month, El DeBarge, Catherine Russell, and Too $hort all honored their respective careers on NPR’s popular platform. Closing out the Black History Month performances will be Pastor Shirley Caesar with her Tiny Desk premiering on Friday, Feb. 25.
NPR Music’s Bobby Carter, who produced the specially curated Tiny Desk concerts, spoke to the intentional artist selection in a statement. “For this year’s celebration of Black History Month, we delve deeper into the true history of music and culture. Each of our five Tiny Desk home concerts is by an artist who has helped define Black music as we know it today,” he explained.
Watch Patti LaBelle’s Tiny Desk above.