Even the Queen of R&B has an unlucky day every few decades or so.
That’s the only explanation for what happened to Patte LaBelle on December 5, 1996 during the National Tree Lighting Ceremony with then-President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary.
It seems nearly everything with Patti’s live rendition of This Christmas went awry, even before she took the stage. First off, while being introduced, she entered the stage prematurely–most likely thanks to a confusing pause delivered by the announcer.
Once the song began, things really got interesting.
Patti’s background singers were nowhere to be found and there was also an issue with the cue cards. And Patti wasted no time calling out the errors in a desperate attempt to correct course.
“Where my background singers?” she asked. “And that’s the wrong words on the cue cards, I don’t know the song!”
That was shortly followed by Patti just completely making up lyrics to the tune of This Christmas.
“I’m gunna adlib all I can, because I don’t have the right words and I have no background singers,” she sang.
To top it all off, she didn’t seem to know where to go after the performance and remained at the podium while the President and First Lady approached.
At the end of the day, this historic curfuffle was no match for Queen Patti. The only times she stopped singing were to point out all the freakish missteps along the way.
Watch and relish below.
The 2017 National Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on November 30.