Soul legend Patti LaBelle coming to Longwood Gardens for Kennett Library benefit concert

KENNETT SQUARE — Legendary singer Patti LaBelle — known as the Godmother of Soul — is set to perform at Longwood Gardens in seven weeks during a benefit concert to support the Kennett Library.

Patti LaBelle is scheduled to perform at Longwood Gardens to benefit the Kennett Library and Resource Center on September 13. (COURTESY PHOTO)

LaBelle is flying in cherished band members to perform alongside her for the special event. Backup singers will also join her for the once-in-a-lifetime historic show in Chester County benefiting the Kennett Library.

Local leaders expect the all-new $21.7 million and 33,425 square-foot Kennett Library and Resource Center, at the corner of Willow and State streets, to open in May.

Organizers and supporters have raised approximately $15.5 million for the new facility.

Presently, stewards of the Kennett Library seek to raise approximately $6.2 million within the next nine months in order to open the new facility to the public debt-free.

Ground broke on the project last year.

Philadelphia legend

A singer, LaBelle is known at home and around the world for her classic rhythm-and blues renditions, pop standards and spiritual sonnets. Labelle’s most famous hits include Over the Rainbow, Lady Marmalade, What can I Do For You, and Moon Shadow.

“Each year I grow, and that’s a blessing from God,” said LaBelle, 78.

Besides a six-decade plus career in the music industry, the award-winning entertainer, author and entrepreneur is a long-standing philanthropist and humanitarian.

“I do what I can do,” LaBelle said.

Born in Philadelphia on May 24, 1944, the singer continues to live in the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love today.

“I do what I feel God has given me the energy to do, so I just go out there and I do it,” LaBelle said. “It’s not about making money — because I don’t need money — but I need to sing.”

Longwood concert

Wwith limited corporate sponsorship opportunities, the mayor of Kennett Square said he is looking forward to the concert drawing in support locally and regionally for the library.

“We wanted to do a benefit concert where we could get people together to have a fun night,” said Kennett Square Mayor Matthew Fetick. “Corporate sponsors have not been able to do any entertaining for either their employees or their clients from the last two years. So, we thought an outdoor event would be a great opportunity for them to be able to give to the library and come out and do something worthwhile with their clients or employees.”

Fetick is a member of the library’s capital campaign — Imagine.

Kennett Square Mayor Matthew Fetick is organizing a benefit concert featuring Patti LaBelle at Longwood Gardens on September 13. He said the new Kennett Library and Recourse Center will pull people out of poverty through literacy. (COURTESY PHOTO)Kennett Square Mayor Matthew Fetick is organizing a benefit concert featuring Patti LaBelle at Longwood Gardens on September 13. He said the new Kennett Library and Recourse Center will pull people out of poverty through literacy. (COURTESY PHOTO)

“We thought about several different artists and we were struggling with who to get,” the mayor recalled. “And truly it came to me in the middle of the night — Patti LaBelle. She’s a Philadelphia girl, she still lives in Philadelphia, and puts on a really great performance.”

LaBelle’s performance will take place at Longwood’s Italian-style outdoor garden theater.

“We’re very excited,” the mayor said.

Longwood Gardens will be closed to the public during the event. On September 13, the venue will open for ticket holders at 5 p.m. The concert is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

“The new Kennett Library and Resource Center will make an incredible impact on literacy, education, workforce employment and the overall economy,” Fetick said. “It is awesome to see this vision become a reality.”

‘Transformational’ endeavor

“The library is very excited to have Longwood Gardens hosting a private fundraiser concert for the Kennett Library and Resource Center,” Jeff Yetter, president of the Kennett Library Board of Trustees.

“Paul Redman, president and chief executive officer of Longwood Gardens and one of our co-chairs of the library’s capital campaign, has been incredibly supportive,” Yetter said.

The Rev. Marvin Williams of the Second Baptist Church prays for the workers and the building during a "topping off" ceremony for the new $12.7 million library on July 14 in Kennett Square. (JEN SAMUEL ??The Rev. Marvin Williams of the Second Baptist Church prays for the workers and the building during a “topping off” ceremony for the new $12.7 million library on July 14 in Kennett Square. (JEN SAMUEL — MEDIANEWS GROUP)

He said the new library is critical for the community.

“Putting Longwood Gardens marketing and promotional expertise behind the Patti LaBelle fundraiser makes a powerful statement,” Yetter added.

In addition to a specular collection of books, the library and resource center will feature a dynamite 110-seat auditorium, numerous meeting rooms, four rooms for tutoring and plenty of new contemporary technology facets including the ability to print in 3-D.

“It is no secret that the new Kennett Library and Resource Center will provide many more services to our community,” Yetter said. “Increased hours of operation, increased programing and 14 meeting rooms, an auditorium and the Dennis Melton Terrace will all add to the cost of operating the library. Chris Manna, our executive director, and the Board of Trustees are already reaching out to corporations, businesses and individuals to sponsor programs that support their missions and interests.”

Yetter said that Exelon, Penn Medicine and Chester County are just a few of the organizations that are already planning to support the new 33,425 square-foot facility.

“We are hopeful that residents who take advantage of the many new services the library will be offering, will increase our annual campaign donations as well,” he said.

A couple smile on Willow Street while watching the "topping off" ceremony at the new Kennett Library and Resource Center on July 14. (JEN SAMUEL ??A couple smile on Willow Street while watching the “topping off” ceremony at the new Kennett Library and Resource Center on July 14. (JEN SAMUEL — MEDIANEWS GROUP)

Yetter called the Kennett Library and Resource Center a “transformational” project — an endeavor that has received the support of hundreds of individuals besides lawmakers, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Chester County and the eight municipalities that the institution serves.

Kennett Library, which the Pennsylvania Library Association awarded with Gold Certification last week, serves the people from eight regional municipalities including Kennett Square, West Marlborough, East Marlborough, Kennett, Newlin, New Garden, Pennsbury and Pocopson.

“The Board of Trustees is incredibly grateful for all of the donors that have stepped up so far to help us reach our goal of $21.7 million,” Yetter said.

“We have raised $15.5 million which means that there is still room for more members of our community to step up and help us pay off this amazing asset for our community,” Yetter said.

“We would also like to thank all of the countless Trustees that have preceded us,” Yetter said, “for their vision, their support and all of their efforts to help bring the new Kennett Library and Resource Center to Southeastern Chester County.”

There are 1,000 tickets available to attend LaBelle’s private concert at Longwood Gardens on September 13. Tickets become available online for purchase June 22 and corporate sponsorship opportunities are currently open. Space is limited.

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