Philadelphia Street Named in Honor of Patti LaBelle

Philadelphia honored hometown singer Patti LaBelle this month with her very own street sign.

The legendary R&B and soul singer was honored on July 2 with a street sign named Patti LaBelle Way on the block of Broad Street between Spruce and Locust Streets, Variety reported. City officials like Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, president and CEO of Welcome America Michael DelBene, and Patty Jackson of radio station WDAS (105.3 FM) held the ceremony.

“If you have a dream in life, don’t ever think that anything is too big [or] that you’re not worthy,” Labelle said during the ceremony, according to Variety. “If you’re living, don’t wake up that day and say nothing happened. Work that day, honey, like it’s the last day of your life. Because you can get it all!”

The Grammy award-winning singer said this is a tribute she never dreamed she would receive, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“I never would’ve dreamed of this,” said LaBelle. “I was a shy little girl from West Philly. To go from shy Patti to Patti LaBelle Way is incredible.”

During her speech, LaBelle thanked those who petitioned to change the street sign to honor her, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. She sang an impromptu rendition of her 1983 hit "Love, Need and Want You,” to attendees.

“I’m so proud of Philadelphia,” she told the crowd, according to the publication. “I’ll sing for free for you any day.”

A few days after the ceremony, the city admitted it had misspelled the Godmother of Soul’s name in the street sign, leaving out the capital B in her last name. Deana Gamble, the communications director for the city of Philadelphia,told the Philadelphia Inquirer that LaBelle had autographed and held the street sign with the correct spelling of her name. She told the publication that the Streets Department is aware of the mistake and plans on installing signs with the correct spelling.

The two-time Grammy award-winning singer is known for her hit songs such as “Lady Marmalade,” and “New Attitude.” The singer started her career in the 1960s as the lead singer of the band Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. She also became a solo artist in 1977 and has sold more than 50 million records in the past five decades.

LaBelle’s acting landed a guest appearance on FX’s “American Horror Story: Freak Show” back in 2014, and in other shows like Fox’s “Empire” and Own’s “Greenleaf.”

The singer is also a humanitarian and is a spokesperson for the National Minority AIDS (NMA) Council’s “Live Long, Sugar” campaign, bringing awareness to HIV/AIDS, according to the Black AIDS Institute. LaBelle also acts as a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association (Patti herself is diabetic), the National Medical Association, and the National Cancer Institute. In addition, she launched her own scholarship called the Patti LaBelle Medical Education Scholarship Fund through the NMA.

Other public figures who have streets named after them in Philadelphia include R&B group Boyz II Men and professional boxer Muhammad Ali, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In June, an intersection in Brooklyn, New York, was named after the rapper the Notorious B.I.G. The Christopher Wallace Way Foundation announced the news on the rapper’s birthday on Tuesday, May 21, the New York Daily News previously reported. The street is located on St. James Place between Fulton Street and Gates Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where the rapper lived when he was growing up, the publication reported.

Many of the late rapper’s friends and family members attended the street naming ceremony. Rapper Lil’ Kim told the crowd that she had dreamt of the day that a street sign in Brooklyn would be named after the legendary rapper.

“I’ve always known this day was going to come; I used to dream about a street being named after Biggie, because it was only right. Everyone from Brooklyn represents him with so much love and passion,” Lil’ Kim said, according to Essence.

The late rapper’s mother, Violetta, was also in attendance and thanked the fans that are still listening to her son’s music.

“This street is going to be a love street, people are going to come here and are going to know that a young man, my son was here,” Voletta said, according to the publication.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.