Patti LaBelle performs as part of An Evening with Cedric the Entertainer and Friends at Peabody Opera House in St. Louis on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. Photo by Jon Gitchoff
Cedric the Entertainer could not have chosen a more perfect headliner than Patti LaBelle for his annual fundraiser that rolled out for the second year at Peabody Opera House Saturday night.
The Evening with Cedric the Entertainer and Friends fundraiser benefits the Rosetta Boyce Kyles Women’s Pavilion at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, named after Cedric the Entertainer’s mother, who died after her fight with cancer in June.
The inaugural event was a year ago, headlined by Jill Scott. Kyles was in attendance.
LaBelle has often talked about losing her three sisters to cancer before any of them reached the age of 45, something that has always haunted her and forced her to question her own mortality.
Cedric the Entertainer and his sister Sharita Kyles Wilson mostly kept the mood light Saturday, all things considered, buoyed by LaBelle’s booming vocals and fun nature.
LaBelle, still a powerhouse at 71, started her big-voiced wails off stage and slowly sauntered onto the stage for a classic LaBelle set with that one-of-a-kind voice, her signature wing-flapping moves and, of course, the moment when she kicks off her pumps during the show-stopping “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”
After the early song “New Attitude,” she told the crowd she that was out of breath and that “menopause is in the house” as she readjusted the direction of the blowing fans on stage.
She promised she would take her time with the concert, though after she got winded you could have predicted that the song list would be limited. But she gave her all to the handful of songs she did perform, including “If Only You Knew,” “I’m in Love Again” and “Love, Need and Want You,” which she pointed out was covered by many artists including Nelly and Kelly Rowland on the Grammy-winning 2002 hit “Dilemma.”
LaBelle said that she had met Nelly’s then-ailing sister Jackie Donahue on the set of the “Dilemma” video and that Donahue had found inspiration in LaBelle’s book (Donahue died of leukemia in 2005).
LaBelle covered Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin,’ ” though surprisingly she skipped “On My Own,” the song they recorded together. She gave an even deeper gospel edge to Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.” She ventured into the crowd, barefoot, during “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”
During “Lady Marmalade,” as is customary, she brought out several males to sing and dance with her including Cedric the Entertainer’s 15-year-old son, Croix Kyles. All the fellas were on good behavior, which meant she didn’t have to throw anyone off the stage as she did in a recent video clip that went viral.
After closing the set with her signature version of “Over the Rainbow,” she ended the already poignant evening on another poignant note with “You Are My Friend,” as photos of many of her famous departed friends were shown on the screen including Marvin Gaye, Maya Angelou, Eartha Kitt, Teddy Pendergrass, Minnie Riperton, Isaac Hayes, Rick James, Teena Marie, Aaliyah, Gerald Levert, Nelson Mandela, Elizabeth Taylor, B.B. King and Phyllis Hyman.
The reel ended with Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, then flashed to pictures of LaBelle’s family members and loved ones who have died, including her parents, sisters and band director.
LaBelle gave several shout-outs to Temptations singer Dennis Edwards, who was in the audience.
Cedric the Entertainer, brought out on stage to the song “Classic Man,” delivered a brief routine that began with how good-natured Southerners had offered him an outpouring of greens and yams after he learned his mother had died while he was on tour in the South.
He also spoke about Halloween and said he would dress up as a Republican presidential candidate except that no one would know who he was unless he dressed as Donald Trump. He questioned the choice of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trump’s replacement on “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
“He had the affair with the maid,” Cedric said. “He’s not the right person to say ‘You’re fired.’ ”
Cedric the Entertainer announced from the stage $700,000 has been raised over the two years of the fundraiser.
Cedric the Entertainer performs as part of An Evening with Cedric the Entertainer and Friends at Peabody Opera House in St. Louis on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. Photo by Jon Gitchoff