If there was any show to be at Mother’s Day (May 12) the Forum in Inglewood, CA was the place to be. Three of the biggest R&B/soul legends came together for an unforgettable evening. After playing the Microsoft Theater with Keith Sweat last year and two nights at the Hollywood Bowl with the O’Jays' Charlie Wilson came back with Patti LaBelle and Stephanie Mills. This three hour + show included hit after hit from three of the greatest artists of the past century. The first act of the night was Broadway and music legend Stephanie Mills.
Mills has had a quite a career spanning over 50 years from winning amateur night at the Apollo Theater at the age of 11 to two years on Broadway as Dorothy in The Wiz resulting in a number one hit for her “Home” and in the '80s had another five number one hits. Mills performed a set of classics like “I Feel Good All Over,” the Grammy-winning hit “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” and ended with “Home.” Following Mills was a set from another one of the top female artists.
Miss Patti LaBelle just 12 days before her 75th birthday, showed how timeless her music is and she’s still the diva fans have loved for over five decades. Back in 1995, LaBelle and Tony Bennett performed the Super Bowl halftime show. When LaBelle made her grand entrance she kicked off her performance singing in the same way. LaBelle doesn’t just sing to her fans, but she also interacts with them. From spraying perfume on a fan in the front row to signing vinyl records, LaBelle really showed her appreciation for her numerous fans. The best of it was during her legendary hit “Lady Marmalade,” when LaBelle invited four men in the audience to join her onstage and one by one sing and dance for her. One happened to be part of the Forum’s staff making it even more fun to watch.
From LaBelle’s original group The Bluebells to becoming LaBelle a solo artist, Miss Patti LaBelle has had a very illustrious career. In LaBelle's 50+ year career, she has sold over 50 million albums and is a member of the Grammy Hall of Fame and Apollo Hall of fame, performed in front of 100,000 people at Live Aid, and made Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Greatest Singers. To top it off many consider LaBelle to be the “Godmother of Soul.” Outside of music LaBelle has had a successful career in acting having roles in several hit TV shows as well as her own Out All Night. Labelle’s set was filled with hits like “New Attitude,” “On My Own,” and “You Are My Friend,” as well as a cover of “Over the Rainbow.” LaBelle also paid tribute to musicians of all genres that have passed with a slideshow showing how many greats we have lost in recent years.
“Uncle Charlie” Wilson seems to play LA every year and every single time he brings the house down and plays from 6,000 fans to 20,000 in a night here from the Microsoft Theater to the Hollywood Bowl, and now the Forum. With Wilson’s major success as an artist, he has also had a few downfalls that he pulled through including prostate cancer, alcohol addiction, homelessness, and losing his brother Robert. Wilson shares this with the audience and uses it to inspire his fans that they can stay positive through anything that gets in the way. From start to finish, Uncle Charlie keeps everyone on their feet and dancing throughout the night. Wilson made his entrance to “Party Train,” and the party kicked off. And as always, his dancers and band each had matching outfits of different colors.
Wilson’s set continued with “Early In The Morning,” Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful,” “Good Times (Everybody)”, and “There Goes My Baby.” My personal favorite part of every Charlie Wilson show is when he performs his Gap Band hit “Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me) combined with Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” but the best part is when it segues into another Gap Band hit “Humpin,” as Wilson and his dancer’s jackets light up while dancing. Another favorite song of mine to see is “Charlie, Last Name Wilson.”
The biggest surprise of all came at the end of the show when Wilson was joined by Snoop Dogg and K-Ci for the Gap Band hit “Outstanding,” which was the perfect fit since this was a very outstanding show. When it comes to Soul/R&B Charlie Wilson is the type of artist to see over and over again.
Patti LaBelle and Stephanie Mills Photo Credit: Keilen Photography/ Forum Photos
Charlie Wilson Photo Credit: Brandon Phillips/ P Music Group