Queen of Kings: Gospel queen Patti LaBelle kicks off Bric Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park

Queen of Kings: Gospel queen Patti LaBelle kicks off Bric Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park
Show time: 75-year-old Patti LaBelle rocked Prospect Park for nearly two hours Tuesday night.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

She was LaBelle of the ball!

Brooklyn music fans endured long waits to join legendary gospel crooner Patti LaBelle as she reigned in the Bric Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell Tuesday night.

The line to get into the free summer-concert opener started at the meadow’s music hall near Ninth Street, and stretched for six blocks through Brooklyn’s Backyard past the Bartell-Pritchard Square Entrance and right onto the sidewalk!

But it’s not every day you get to see an American icon in action, according to one Ditmas Park man, who said the chance to see LaBelle was worth any wait.

“You don’t want a situation where you miss a chance to see Patti LaBelle,” said Tunga Takavarasha, who brought wife Abie, and 4-month-old son Tadi. “I mean, she’s a legend.”

The concert opened with a fairly drab succession of speeches from speakers, including Bric President Kristina Newman-Scott, First Lady Chirlane McCray, Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander, and Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, which tested the crowd’s patience, and at one point audience members erupted in chants of “Patti, Patti, Patti,” as the big shots dragged on.

Finally, the gospel queen emerged on stage at around 8:30 p.m., introducing her 1989 hit “If You Asked Me To,” with a nod to Canadian diva Celine Dion.

Hail the queen: Legendary gospel queen Patti LaBelle opened the 2019 season of Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

“I had the pleasure of hearing my good friend Celine Dion sing this song. But don’t get it twisted — I sang it first!” LaBelle teased.

And during a rendition of “Lady Marmalade,” the singer asked four men from the audience “white or black, gay or straight” to join her on stage, and the crooner was quickly flanked by two drag queens, including local nightlife figure Merrie Cherry, who helped belt out the classic tune.

Another gent who joined LaBelle proved reticent to depart the stage when asked, and was eventually escorted offstage by security as the singer quipped “Bye, Felicia!”

LaBelle, who celebrated her 75th birthday on May 24, entertained the crowd for nearly two hours, singing songs, including “On My Own” and “If you don’t know me by now.”

Tuesday’s concert will be followed by 21 free musical performances, two films screenings, a pair of dance shows, and five paid concerts until Colombia’s Bomba Estereo closes the series on Aug. 10.

For more information, check out Brooklyn Paper’s handy Bric Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival events guide.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Patti cakes: Tunga and Abie Takavarasha treated 4-month-old Tadi to his first concert on Tuesday.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

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