Music legend Pati LaBelle to perform at Longwood Gardens on Sept. 1307/26/2022 01:25PM ● By Richard Gaw
Courtesy photo Legendary recording star Patti LaBelle will perform at the Open Air Theater at Longwood Gardens on Sept. 13. The concert will serve as a fundraiser for the new Kennett Library & Resource Center, currently under construction and expected to open in the spring of 2023.
By Richard L. Gaw
Over the last year, members of the Imagine Capital Campaign Committee for the new Kennett Library & Resource Center have pitched possible revenue source concepts in order to raise the necessary funds to complete the cost of the new $21.1 million facility.
Together, their ideas and their outreach have raised over $15.5 million toward that magic number, but with more than $6 million left to go, the ideas have kept coming.
One member of the Committee – Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick – remembered a benefit concert he attended decades ago that raised funds to fight Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The tickets were pricey and the venue was intimate, but Fetick knew that the cost of his ticket was going to a good cause. In return, he and the limited number of guests that evening were treated to a magical performance by singer-songwriter Carole King.
“Using that concert as a template, I came up with the idea of holding a concert at the Conservatory at Longwood Gardens, perhaps with about 12 tables,” Fetick said. “But as we began to re-emerge from COVID-19, we began to re-imagine holding a concert at Longwood’s 1,500-seat Outdoor Air Theater.”
Quickly, Fetick found welcome partners in Longwood Gardens President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Redman and his management team, who not only began designing the framework for a concert but donated the venue and the event planning to the Library. While the plans for the concert began to take root, there was only one dilemma left to solve: Find a performer who would sell out the theater.
“In the middle of the night, I woke up and thought, ‘Patti LaBelle,’” Fetick said. “She would be perfect. She was born in Philadelphia. She is still based in Philadelphia, and performing a concert at Longwood Gardens would amount to doing a show in her own backyard.”
On Sept. 13, Labelle will bring her talents and a large-ensemble band of musicians and back-up singers to the Open Air Theater at Longwood Gardens as a benefit for the new Kennett Library & Resource Center.
“This concert won’t just be Patti sitting on a chair singing songs,” Fetick said. “She is flying people in for the show. We are coordinating transportation and hotel stays and putting all of the pieces of this together, because Patti said that if she is doing this concert near her hometown, she is going to perform the largest concert that she can.”
Over the last several decades, only a few performers have managed to transcend musical and artistic genres and remained relevant – and LaBelle has been one of them. Born Patricia Louise Holte on May 24, 1944 in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia, LaBelle has built a nearly six-decade career as a multi-platinum-level recording artist, actress and author that began in the 1960s when she was the lead singer of the band Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. A decade later the group changed their name to Labelle and recorded the LaBelle’s signature “Lady Marmalade,” that launched LaBelle’s transition as a Grammy-winning solo artist and helped generate the sale of more than 50 million records.
Throughout her illustrious career, LaBelle has performed with Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick and Tony Bennett, performed at Live Aid in 1985, contributed songs for the soundtrack to the hit movie Beverly Hills Cop, and performed on several television specials, including “Motown Returns to the Apollo” and at the Super Bowl XXIX halftime show and acted in several television programs and films. In 2006, she released her first gospel album, The Gospel According to Patti LaBelle -- which rose to number one on Billboard’s gospel chart -- written several cookbooks and performed on Broadway in the Tony Award-nominated smash hit After Midnight.
“I feel that this concert will accomplish several initiatives,” Fetick said “Not only are we going to have a great evening, we are raising money for this new library at a time when we can all begin together outside again, in a world-class venue. It’s the best of everything: it’s a phenomenal performer near her hometown for a great cause in a superb venue. There are so many things to be proud of."
The concert’s ticketing package is providing six corporate sponsorship levels ranging from $5,000 to $35,000, VIP tickets at $2,500 each, and individual seating at $150 each. Included in all corporate-level ticket packages will be two tickets that will be given to guests who would not normally be able to afford to attend a benefit concert – 60 tickets in all.
“Those 60 tickets are not just for the back row,” Fetick said. “They are located throughout all of the premium seating, and it will give our corporate sponsors the opportunity to pay it forward for these special guests. Through their many resources, the Library will be able to identify who those tickets will be given to.”
Fetick said that organizing a concert of this magnitude would not have been possible without the support of Longwood Gardens.
“I do not have the resources to get the management team of Patti LaBelle to the table, but Paul Redman has been incredibly generous not only with his time but with the resources of his staff, who have put themselves entirely behind this project.
“Paul Redman’s quiet impact on this area has been – and continues to be -- immeasurable.”
“A unified community’
From his seat at the Patti LaBelle concert on Sept. 13, Fetick said that he will look at his fellow concert-goers as far more than individual ticket holders.
“I will see a unified community who has stepped up to invest in the most vulnerable people in our community,” he said. “It’s not just sitting at home and sending your money in. It’s coming together and saying, ‘We are unified in investing in this building that will support the most vulnerable people in our community.
“I can call any one of those corporate sponsors and ask them to write a check to benefit the Kennett Library & Resource Center campaign. By producing this concert, however, we are allowing them to show their generosity in investing in the community to their clients or their employees. It’s easy to say, ‘We wrote a check for the library,’ but it’s another thing to say, ‘We did this. You are here as our guests because we reinvested in the community.’”
For more information and to purchase corporate sponsorship-level and individual tickets to the Sept. 13 Patti LaBelle concert, visit www.pattiatlongwood.com.
To learn more about the new Kennett Library & Resource Center, visit https://campaign4.kennettlibrary.org/
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].