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Happy Birthday, Patti LaBelle! The Soul Icon Talks Faith, Fashion and Confidence at 80

80 never looked so good!

Patti LaBelle — the legendary singer nicknamed the “Godmother of Soul” – celebrates a milestone birthday today — the shining star turns 80! The Grammy award-winner known for such hits as “New Attitude” and “On My Own” is still touring, representing women as one of QVC’s “Quintessential 50” and cooking up a storm, whether it’s for her family, her team or testing recipes for her food line, Patti’s Good Life.

MUST-READ: Patti LaBelle Talks New Music + Her Advice For Women Turning 50

The Philadelphia native, who began singing in church at age 14, sat down with FIRST for Women to reflect on her eight decades, what she hopes for her next chapter (she’s releasing a new album!) and why she’s not giving up her high heels anytime soon.

FIRST for Women (FFW): Happy birthday, Patti! What a milestone! How does it feel to turn 80?

Patti LaBelle: I feel fabulous. I feel great. I feel blessed.

MUST-READ: Martha Stewart, Queen Latifah, Christina Applegate, Donna Kelce + More Celebrate What It Means to Be Over 50 With QVC

FFW: What are your plans for your birthday?

Patti LaBelle: I think I’m having a big surprise party, but nobody’s told me where or when or what. Just in case, I’m prepared. I have the outfit to wear!

Patti LaBelle, 2022
Patti LaBelle in 2022JC Olivera/Getty

FFW: When you blow out the candles on the cake, what  flavor cake are you hoping it will be?

Patti LaBelle: A lemon and peach cake.

FFW:  What do you attribute to achieving this milestone birthday?

Patti LaBelle: I believe I’m God’s child and I’ve been blessed for all of these years. My sisters died before they turned 53, so I didn’t think I would make it at all. When I turned 60, it was a celebration and I’m still celebrating. Losing my sisters made me think I wouldn’t make it, but here I am.

FFW: You’ve been on the road touring and still going strong. How has that been?

Patti LaBelle: I feel good, but every now and then I have a little pain in my ankles. It’s hard for me to wear the five and six-inch pumps, so I go to three inches, but I continue to wear the five inch pumps when I can.

Patti LaBelle, 2022
Patti LaBelle in 2022Erika Goldring/Getty

FFW: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Patti LaBelle: I would tell my younger self to be a little more patient. I’m still not very patient. I also would’ve told my younger self not to be so trusting. I’ve learned to be a better judge of people now that I’m 80, but it all worked out well for me in the end.

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FFW: Has your faith helped you reach this point in your 80 years?

Patti LaBelle: Yes, it’s all about faith and believing. I believe very much in a higher power than myself. It’s the reason I’m still standing, not because of my talent, but because of my beliefs.

FFW: Do you have a special prayer that you say these days as you look at turning 80?

Patti LaBelle: My special prayer is every morning I wake up and thank God for waking me up. I’ve been blessed to wake up each day, and even when I have issues with my body, I remind myself how blessed I am.

The singer in 2024
Patti LaBelle in 2024, Patti LaBelle turns 80Jamie McCarthy/Getty

FFW: You are so beloved around the world. What are your thoughts on your next chapter? What are some of your hopes and dreams?

Patti LaBelle: My next chapter includes working on my R&B album. I haven’t had an album out in 20 years, so I’m excited about that. The tour is tentatively called 80/65 because I’ve been in the business for 65 years and I’m 80. The name of my album tentatively is also 80/65.

FFW: What a great name!  What else are you excited about?

Patti LaBelle: I have new pancake batter that my grandkids love in the Patti’s Good Life line. It’s Patti’s Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix. I think it’s the best pancake mix ever.

FFW: You are always so stylish. Do you have any beauty secrets, a routine you adhere to?

Patti LaBelle: I always wear silk pajamas or a muumuu. I don’t wear jeans unless they’re phenomenal. I just love to dress up!

FFW: Why do you love dressing up so much?

Patti LaBelle: My father was always immaculately dressed. He took three showers a day and changed clothes three times a day. He always lined his shoes up perfectly. I grew up loving clothes because of him.

The singer in 2022
Patti LaBelle in 2022, Patti LaBelle turns 80Eugene Gologursky/Getty for Thurgood Marshall College Fund

FFW: We can only imagine the outfit you’ll wear for your birthday. Could you give us a sneak preview?

Patti LaBelle: It’s the most beautiful gown I’ve ever had in my life. I can’t reveal too much, but I will look like a queen.

FFW:  Do you have a particular quote that has inspired you over the years?

Patti LaBelle: I always say, “I’ll take the high road.” I can’t let negative energy into my space. Even if someone says something bad about me, I’ll forgive them and keep moving on.

FFW: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Patti LaBelle: Perfect happiness for me was the birth of my son and seeing him have his own babies, my grandbabies. That’s real love and perfect happiness.

FFW: How do you keep your energy up for your performances?

Patti LaBelle: We always pray before going onstage. Sometimes I don’t eat before a show because I don’t have an appetite then, but after, I reward myself with a good meal that I cook myself.

I bring my own pots and pans to hotels. I’ll have a good lamb chop with spinach or fish. Because I’m a diabetic, I can’t have too many sweet things that I love. I love cheesecake, so if I was very, very, very good, I’ll have a forkful of cheesecake as a special treat.

Patti LaBelle, 2019
Patti LaBelle in 2019Aaron J. Thornton/Getty

FFW: What would you say to someone who may be half your age and want to feel more energized? 

Patti LaBelle: I have a lot of love around me, and I believe in being as happy as I can be. It’s encouraging for people to see an 80-year-old woman still having fun and staying busy. And laughter and a sense of humor helps.

FFW: What do you do to keep a good sense of humor?

Patti LaBelle: I’m a big prankster. I love to tell stories and have fun with people.

FFW: Speaking of laughter, do you have a favorite comedy movie?

Patti LaBelle: I love Trading Places and Bad Santa. Both make me laugh a lot. I was also in Semi-Pro with Will Ferrell, which was a funny experience. I played his mom and we had to do one scene at least 20 times because I couldn’t stop laughing.

Patti LaBelle, 2019
Patti LaBelle in 2019, Patti LaBelle turns 80Paras Griffin/Getty

FFW: Is there a surprising fact about you that people might not know?

Patti LaBelle: I don’t drive, don’t swim, don’t smoke.

FFW: You’ve sung with Dolly Parton. She’s right behind you in birthdays and will turn 79 next January. What was it like working with her?

Patti LaBelle: We had a lot in common, especially our nails. She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. We talked about possibly dueting in the future.

FFW: Is there an inspirational saying or motto you would suggest for people to keep their spirits lifted as they age?

Patti LaBelle: Instead of a specific motto, I live by the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a beautiful message that has always made me feel blessed. I love to sing it.

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