There are a few magazines that I would just love to freelance for, and Essence is definitely one of them. I caught sight of the latest cover over at Concrete Loop, and it made me so happy and proud of my fellow bellas. I like when any magazine celebrates female beauty at all stages of life, but seeing women I identify with celebrated in such a manner just always makes me smile.

Wendy Raquel Robinson, Kelly Rowland, and Vanessa Williams all look wonderful, and music legend Nancy Wilson is still stunning! Love how Nancy works the “silver fox” look with those gorgeous earrings. I found this glorious video of her singing one of my favorites, “A Song For You.” She effortlessly embodies elegance and class. Love Nancy Wilson. Expect a post on her soon. But this post is all about the awesome Patti Labelle!

“If You Ask Me To,” and “On My Own” were the songs she released in my youth. Those are both great songs, but my favorite Patti slow jam is “Somebody Loves You Baby (You Know Who It Is)”. I clearly remember the first time I saw a vintage clip of LaBelle performing Lady Marmalade. Those metallic lame outfits were mindblowing stuff to a six year old. (Riddle me this…. why would this amazing live footage of LaBelle performing “Lady Marmalade” and “Get You Somebody New” be flagged for “adult content” by YouTube? That makes no sense). Watch Miss Patti work out this fervent, funky cover of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, feel her passion in this version of “You’ve Got a Friend” and tell me you’re not a believer!

Labelle was one of the funkiest, bravest girl groups of all time. I would love a Labelle reunion.

I prefer the gritty, soulful, divalicious Patti more than the subtle, slow jam singing Patti. So I just had to share this clip of latter-period Patti Labelle shaking her groove thing like she used to with one of my favorite afrobellas of alllllllllll time, the vivacious and colorful Celia Cruz!

Even though Patti doesn’t seem to know what the heck she’s singing, she’s still got the rhythm and is clearly having a blast.

Patti Labelle is aging like fine wine. Azucar!

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naijamiss says:
December 17, 2006, 1:35 pm
good sunday bella. you know, i love seeing beautiful black women too. yet it makes me sad that not a single one of the women featured on this cover wears her natural hair. essence talks so much about loving ourselves, and still, the images often contradict the words. when women with seemingly natural hair do appear in the pages, likely, they're wearing afro wigs or weaves. preserving our youthfulness is a practice i imagine is enhanced by our determination to allow and celebrate our natural selves--inside and out. having the courage to ask ourselves: who are we, really? i can't imagine that it contributes (aside from the superficial) to health and youthfulness to consistently damage our hair and skin with things that don't belong on them. while i love my black sisters of africa and the diaspora, any time we discuss our physical beauty, we must be brave enough to admit how far we've come from truly loving ourselves; and within that is the pathlight to find our way back. nonetheless, a lovely piece. thanks. peace.
Carolyn says:
December 17, 2006, 2:02 pm
Excellent post. I appreciate Nancy's grace and Patti's positive energy (and Vanessa's self possession). They have all aged beautifully. When I saw the cover in the bookstore the other day, like naijamiss, I was disappointed by the lack of natural hair - although I was happy to see Nancy showing that gray is lovely. Overall, Essence does do a wonderful job of showing the diversity of black beauty, be it features, body type, skin tone or hair texture. I stopped reading it because I don’t feel relate to the message/values of the publication (it’s class thing) and I hate how they airbrush the humanity of folks. That all said, I grew up with the magazine and I'm happy that it’s still going strong – it’s very well produced and targeted to an audience that deserves to be affirmed and acknowledged.
naijamiss says:
December 17, 2006, 2:57 pm
carolyn, i really appreciate your comments. i too have mixed feelings about essence magazine. when i was younger, i read it without much criticism/analysis. now at 27, i can't help but see the contradictions--and perhaps these contradictions reflect those that exist within most of us. nonetheless, it's still one of the most well-put-together publications aimed at black women. so, i can appreciate it for that. peace.
Black Honey says:
December 17, 2006, 2:58 pm
Thanks for posting this Afrobella. Images like this one is the reason I've been an Essence subscriber for the past 15 years. I love that they feature all types of women of color. The only thing I don't like the excessive ads for relaxers. Vanessa looks better now than she did 20 years ago. Miss Kelly stopped letting Mama Tina style and now she looks fabulous. I have to admit that Miss Nancy has always been a bit too refined for my taste, but she looks amazing. Wendy is so cute. Finally, LaBelle is so inspirational. She is a force of nature and living example of how you can hold a good woman down.
flygyrl72 says:
December 18, 2006, 2:07 pm
Hey Bella, just got the newest edition of Essence myself, & yes, while the cover is nice, I agree w/ Naijamiss. Essence really doesn't celebrate or showcase Natural do's, particularly in their hairstyle/beauty section, it barely covers natural hairstyles or styling tips , usually always features some relaxed hairstyle. I've noticed that for a while now. And did anyone peep their cover last month? W/ Diddy & Kim Porter on the cover?! W/ the title "No Ordinary Love". That's such a joke. Especially when Puffy still maintains that he isn't ready to marry Kim, even though she has 3 kids by him?! I don't think that was an appropriate relationship for them to splash across their cover. Essence isn't what it used to be, that's for sure.
BlackHoney says:
December 18, 2006, 2:56 pm
Lord knows I'm not trying to start anything on afrobella's comment page (because I love her blog) but I really don't understand the brohaha about Diddy and Kim. Like the editor said in her letter, 70% of our kids are born out of wedlock and only 45%(?) of us are married. So Kim and Diddy co-habitation is actually representative of AA relationships. Aren't we being a wee bit hypocritical?
jazmin says:
December 19, 2006, 1:58 am
i heard whoopie was suppose to be staring in a biography for celia a while back, does anyone know if this was true or just a rumor
bella says:
December 19, 2006, 10:10 am
Hi Bellas! Sorry it took me so long to jump into the discussion. I agree with you - mainstream black magazines generally don't embrace natural beauty. The state of the media is a topic that always irks me. The only black women who regularly get featured on magazine covers are Beyonce and Janet Jackson, both women who are far from natural. I bet Bey would have beautiful hair if she let go of all that weave and let her hair grow healthy and strong, too. That lack of representation is why I started Afrobella in the first place, to get a natural perspective out there. I dream of someday having my own magazine, or at least writing for some of these publications and getting a fresh perspective in there. Jazmin, I heard nothing about Celia being played by Whoopi. Personally, I'd oppose that because I don't think Whoopi could bring the Latin spice that is so needed for that role. I'd rather see Rosario Dawson play the young Celia. BlackHoney, don't worry about starting a debate here - I love intelligent discussion! It's true that Kim and Diddy's relationship is representative of African American relationships - just statistically speaking less of our brothers and sisters actually tie the knot than just have kids together and co-exist in that "baby mama/daddy" limbo. Flygyrl, I interpreted the "No Ordinary Love" headline almost as a diss, actually. It better be "no ordinary love" to put up with Puffy's shenanigans! I would have left him a LONG time ago. But what else could Essence use as a tagline - Diddy and Kim: It's All About the Benjamins?
flygyrl72 says:
December 19, 2006, 3:11 pm
Hey Black Honey, I hear you. Unfortunately, Kim's & Diddy's unmarried status is representative of what's going on in our community. But I don't think it's a situtation that should be validated by putting it on a cover of a mag that's supposed to celebrate Black women. It's not that I'm stuck just on them being unmarried, to me, that's not even the worst of it. It's that Diddy's behavior over the years w/ Kim has been very disrespectful, not healthy at all. I mean, he left her for J-LO when she'd just had his son! C'mon! Bella, that pseudo-headline about it being all about the Benjamins, that really sums it up. Has anyone heard about this article that a columnist at the Chicago Sun Times wrote? Check it out...,CST-NWS-mitch02.article
J says:
December 25, 2006, 11:03 am
AMEN! Check out my ode:o)
Eboni Senai says:
January 27, 2007, 2:07 pm While we're admiring aging bellas, I thought you might be interested in this one.
JUstMYwOrD says:
April 3, 2007, 5:56 pm
Now to me Patti embodies the term fierce diva! She's earned it on all points! She's never failed to bring her passion an unique style across to her fans, she shows appreciation to all her fan base by promoting herself in a classy and respectable way, in her personal life she's overcome some major challenges,the list with Patty could just go on and on, she'll always be one of my favorite Artists!
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