Patti LaBelle Is 'Not Interested' in Dating Again at 77: 'I'm Just Living My Life Like It's Platinum'
In this week's issue of PEOPLE, the music legend opens up about the 20th-anniversary reissue of her first cookbook, her life as a grandma and feeling more blessed than ever at 77
Patti LaBelle is just fine "On My Own."
In this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, the music legend says that she's "not interested" in dating again at 77. (In 2000, LaBelle and her ex-husband Armstead Edwards separated after 31 years of marriage; they finalized their divorce in 2003.)
Instead, she says, "I'm just living my life like it's platinum."
"Thank God I have a lot of people who care for me," she adds. "I live alone with my dog, Mr. Cuddles, and I'm looking for love from everybody. I am."
These days LaBelle has her hands full with Mr. Cuddles and her granddaughters Gia, 6, and Leyla, 4, whose dad is her son Zuri Edwards, 48. On any given night, she can be found in the kitchen of her Philadelphia-area home with the girls trying out recipes.
"I learned to cook from my mom and dad; now they're learning from me," says LaBelle. "It's just fun!"
"Leyla, the little baby, she thinks she has a YouTube cooking channel," she continues. "She makes sushi, and then at the very end she says, 'Bye-bye.' So she thinks she can cook, and I think she will be a good cook."
As LaBelle passes down her skills in the kitchen to the girls, they're teaching her a thing or two about technology.
"Gia is trying to teach me how to use a smartphone because I have a flip phone," she says. "She's 6, and we were at a restaurant last night. I said, 'Oh, wow, Gia, what are you doing?' And she said, 'Grandma, I have 70 something likes' — I don't know what she has, but anyway, she was showing me how to work certain parts of the phone."
"I said, 'Oh, baby, I don't know how to do that,'" she continues. "She said, 'That's right, Grandma. You have a flip phone. I'm going to spend the night one night, and I'm going to show you how to use everything on this phone, okay, Grandma?' They're going to teach me. It's great to have babies."
When she started working on her latest project, a 20th-anniversary reissue of her first cookbook LaBelle Cuisine (out now), LaBelle knew that she had to include photos of her granddaughters. Now, she says with a laugh, "they think they're stars."
Along with photos of her granddaughters, the new cookbook reissue also features three new recipes: a chicken dish, a fish dish and a lobster and shrimp cake.
"You can't fail with my book," LaBelle says. "So many people have come up to me and said that I saved some kind of meal for them, because everything in my book, you follow that recipe and you've got it down. It's a lifesaver. I want everybody to realize that. Anybody can cook from that book."
LaBelle says there's a recipe in the cookbook for everybody, even type-2 diabetics like herself.
"I have some diabetic-friendly recipes in there, and the ones that aren't, I make them diabetic-friendly," she says. "You can do everything in the book in moderation, with certain ingredients added and some taken away. If there's something fried, sauté or steam it."
Throughout her six-decade career, LaBelle has become just as famous for her culinary skills as for her singing voice. She's even logged time playing chef to assorted A-list pals.
"I've cooked for a lot of entertainers: the Braxtons, the Rolling Stones, Richard Pryor, the Who, Oprah," she says.
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One dinner guest, Sir Elton John, gave her a diamond ring to make up for losing her Tupperware, and her sometime collaborator Prince once asked her to cook for him at his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota.
"He had his assistants shop for me, and they bought, like, 20 items. I was cooking my face off!" she says. "But when it was time to eat, he sat down and just ate a biscuit. I said, 'Boy, you okay?' He just wanted to see me cook!"
LaBelle's dinner guests are less high-profile these days, but they're still special nonetheless. Recently, she hosted 30 family members and friends in her backyard for a sex reveal party for Zuri and his wife's new baby on the way.
"It's a boy!" she says. "I can't imagine me with a boy. I had these two little girls for a while. It's going to be such an experience. I can't wait to spoil him."
LaBelle indeed has an exciting few months coming up as she's also heading back out on tour on Sept. 11.
"I'm looking forward to wearing pumps, holding a microphone, and seeing live people in front of me," she says. "Lately I've been walking around the house in high heels, trying to get my legs back in shape for stage. I wear five and six-inch heels, so I've been practicing."
To look and feel as good as she does at 77, LaBelle considers herself "pretty blessed."
"I'm still good, my mind is right," she says. "I wake up every morning and look in the mirror and say, 'Girl, you're wearing it well. You're doing okay. Keep it up.' I maintain my diet, I walk my little Mr. Cuddles, I sit in my pool and kick because I can't swim and I have a treadmill that I get on. I'm not a drinker. I'm not a drugger. I'm not a smoker. I've just really taken care of myself."
In the coming months, LaBelle says she can't wait to have run-ins with fans at the airport.
"I love people, and I love seeing people," she says. "One of the trips that we took recently was on a private jet. I don't want to be private! I want to be in an airport and seeing people saying, 'Hi, Patti,' and if they don't say hi to me, I'll say hi first."
Throughout this past year of the COVID-19 lockdown, LaBelle says she's learned to not be selfish.
"I've seen people lose everything during these 15 months: their lives, their jobs," she says. "I've learned so much, and I hope we've all learned how not to be so selfish. This pandemic has shown me a whole lot of ugly, and now hopefully we'll bring back the beauty and learn how to treat each other better. It was a curse and a blessing, and I'm now living my life more thoughtfully."
For all the details on Patti LaBelle, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.
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