The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “Love, Need, and Want You” by Patti LaBelle

Patti LaBelle’s I’m In Love Again | via Genius

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “Love, Need, and Want You” from Patti LaBelle’s 1983 album I’m In Love Again.

From Motown to Stax, every classic label had its own musical style and signature. In the late 60s through the 80s, the records produced at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, under the production guidance of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, were no exception. The Sound of Philly was applied to the incredible Patti LaBelle, when she signed with Philly International after releasing four solo albums on Epic Records. With her mid-70s success behind her, she released her sixth studio album, I’m In Love Again, in 1983.

I’m In Love Again put LaBelle back on the record charts and the radio after several years. The album produced two hits, the biggest of which was “If Only You Knew,” which spent four weeks as the number one on the Billboard R&B charts. The follow-up single, was “Love, Need and Want You,” written by Kenny Gamble and Bunny Sigler. The song is a quintessential Philly International turn-the-lights-down low and let’s make love jam. Vocally, it’s pure Patti. She rides the melody like gorgeous midnight blue, yearning in love, hopeful in love, shouting about being in love at the top of the mountain. Continue reading →


The Week Ahead: Sidney Gish, Patti LaBelle, Rosali, Espers, and more

Rosali | photo by Constance Mensh | courtesy of the artist

The week starts with blues rock ripper Selwyn Birchwood out in the burbs and wraps up in South Philly with the contemplative singer-songwriting of The Afterglows. In between: classic soul, immersive psych, punk rock and more. Here are 17 concerts to see in and around Philadelphia this week.
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Summer at The Dell brings Erykah Badu, Patti LaBelle, Keith Sweat, Ne-Yo and more to Fairmount Park

roots picnic
Erykah Badu | Photo by John Vettese

The Dell Music Center was made for summer concerts, and this year the open-air venue in Fairmount Park East will host a star-studded lineup of musicians almost every week throughout July and August. Many artists scheduled to perform are Dell veterans, like hometown soul/gospel icon Patti LaBelle and neo-soul queen Erykah Badu. Other familiar acts are also lined up, like 80’s R&B star Keith Sweat, gospel singer Tamela Mann and long-running R&B group Kool & the Gang. Continue reading →


Patti LaBelle, Toni Braxton, Erykah Badu and more will play The Dell this summer

Patti LaBelle | Photo via
Patti LaBelle | Photo via

One of the great secrets of Philly live music, The Dell kicks off its summer season this week with a headlining performance by Philadelphia R&B / soul / gospel icon Patti LaBelle. The summer continues with a performance by renowned local dance troupe PhilaDanco on July 17th, a July 23rd show starring R&B / pop star Toni Braxton and 90s hitmaking machine Babyface (who played a tremendous set at The Dell last summer), the return of neo-soul innovator Erykah Badu on August 13th, and much more.

An open-air amphitheater nestled in the Strawberry Mansion hills, the city-run Dell has been around since 1935, but in recent years has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance in programming and prominence, with a focus on R&B, soul, funk and jazz. It’s something of a cousin to West Philly’s Mann Center – the venues were both, at one point in the 70s, both named Robin Hood Dell, and both hold over 5,000 seats in their shed – but where the Mann feels secluded in the serene forests of Fairmount Park, The Dell and its adjacent neighborhood are interconnected.

When I caught Babyface and Robert Glasper in a sold-out show at the venue last summer, you could spot members of the local community who couldn’t snag tickets setting up lawn chairs along Ridge Avenue, or bringing a cooler of dogs and burgers over to the park to grill while listening to the show waft up from down the way. Whether by design or by circumstance, concerts at The Dell aren’t just for ticketholders, they’re for everybody, and that’s a wonderful thing. Check out the summer schedule below. Continue reading →


Explore the history of hip-hop and The Apollo at BlackStar Film Festival

Black Star Film Festival 2019 flyer | via

The eighth annual BlackStar Film Festival returns to Philadelphia next month, showcasing the work of black, brown, and indigenous filmmakers from around the world. This year the festival will celebrate over 100 films, representing over 20 countries. The full lineup has just been announced for the festival, which runs August 1 through August 4 and will screen films at various locations throughout the city.

Film topics cover a range of history, politics, and current events, and films exploring music’s impact on culture are also in the mix.  Continue reading →


Free At Noon Flashback: Matt Cappy brings Instrument of Hope and Philly bounce to World Cafe Live

Matt Cappy | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN |

Kicking off Friday’s Free at Noon double-header, Matt Cappy took the stage with no fewer than three trumpets. The Camden, New Jersey — or as he says, “East Philly” — native has built a impressive career as an trumpeter in the neo-soul / R&B / hip-hop scene, performing with Jill Scott, Michael Jackson, The Roots, Earth Wind and Fire, and Patti LaBelle. On Friday, he shared songs from his 2017 solo album, Church and State. Continue reading →


Uptown, Everything’s Alright: Philadelphia’s legendary home to live R&B is looking to make a comeback

Uptown Theater | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Though born in the genteel era of the Great Depression, 2240 N Broad Street’s art deco Uptown Theater came to life and prominence in the latter 50s and through the 1970s as THE haven for raw R&B and sweet soul not named The Apollo.

Designed by architect Louis Magaziner as a metallic jewel box theater with a wide stage and stained glass amenities, and opened on February 16, 1929, the one-time movie and vaudeville palace became a valued commodity of the neighborhood’s then-growing African-American community under the ownership of Sam Steifel (he also owned Baltimore’s Royal and DC’s Howard Theaters), no to mention the management of Sid Booker, and the producing, promoting and booking of Georgie Woods from WDAS AM.

“Georgie was The Uptown,” said his longtime friend and fellow on-air jock / live show producer Jerry Blavatt. “If you were a great soul and R&B star — Smokey, Ray, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder the Four Tops — you played The Uptown while the labels made the most of your time in Philly by getting you on every radio station and television show. And why not? That venue was like a palace. Gorgeous.” Continue reading →