Patti LaBelle

We can’t call her the queen of soul (Aretha Franklin gets her panties in a knot every time somebody else uses that title), but we can say Patti LaBelle is musical royalty. With dozens of CDs to her credit, both as a solo artist and as a member of the groups Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles and later LaBelle, she’s been a major force in R&B for more than 40 years. Her most recent releases include last year’s Miss Patti’s Christmas and 2006’s The Gospel According to Patti LaBelle; while neither was likely to hit the tops of the fickle pop charts, her legions of fans couldn’t have been happier.

LaBelle is something of a merchandising wiz: She has her own line of jewelry, perfume, clothing and wigs (no, not big-ass crazy wigs, just regular diva wigs). And then there are her best-selling books (including her autobiography, inspirational titles and cookbooks) and television show.

But no matter how loudly the shopping channels call to her, LaBelle is first and foremost a singer. Taking nothing away from Aretha (or Tina or Gladys), LaBelle has a once-in-a-generation voice. Hearing her sing her signature “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in the intimate Arena Theater is going to be a treat. 8 p.m. 7326 Southwest Fwy. For information, call 713–772–5900 or visit www.arenahouston.com. $75 to $100.
Sat., March 15, 8 p.m., 2008

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Olivia Flores Alvarez