Photo: Joe Kohen
"It's going to be a funny answer," Patti LaBelle says when we ask what's in her CD changer at the moment: "Nothing." It is funny that the woman who over her 45-year career pretty much invented the idea of the R&B diva hasn't figured out how to work any of the newfangled Bose stereos stationed around her house. "But I have my little hip-hop collection in the car," she adds. The two-time Grammy winner—whose crystalline, volcanic voice can be heard in rap duo Outkast's new Prohibition-set film, Idlewild, and on Kanye West's latest album, Late Registration—tells us what she tunes in to during trips to the market.
Jay-Z, Blueprint 2.1 (Def Jam): "I like Jay-Z; he makes sense. Some of his songs, you'll think, There's a bleep, there's a bleep, there's a bleep. But he's really a conscious rapper. It's not just cursing; there's meaning in what he says."
Shirley Horn, Here's to Life (Verve): "She's a jazz singer who recently passed away. She tells a story. Her phrasing is beautiful. She's playing that piano and there are other instruments, but you could hear a pin drop. It's so soothing, especially when it's snowing."
Kanye West, Late Registration (Def Jam): "He thinks a lot, and it shows in his music. I sing on the track 'Roses,' about his grandmother. I was in his studio one night, and he and his mother both asked if I'd just sing something on this song. I didn't get a credit on the album because the liner notes had already been printed up."
Yolanda Adams, Day by Day (Atlantic): "She was on my UPN special [All-Star Salute to Patti LaBelle] and said she'd sing any song I wanted. I told her 'Victory,' a gospel song that makes me want to move! But I missed it because I was doing a costume change. That's okay; I'll move when I watch the tape of the show."