Philadelphia has honored its musical legacy in the sidewalk along South Broad Street. The Music Walk of Fame is now embedded with eight new plaques, representing 16 artists.
A couple hundred people gathered outside the Kimmel Center Wednesday to watch the stars put their stars into the pavement. Some fans were holding old vinyl records — clearly well-loved with ragged-edged sleeves — by Sister Sledge and Patti LaBelle to be autographed.
The induction ceremony this year included singer and actress Jill Scott, who thanked Philadelphia performance venues and radio stations.
“I want to thanks WDAS and Power 99,” she said to the cheering crowd. “Thank you for playing my Gamble and Huff, playing LaBelle, playing Sister Sledge. Thank you for Ortlieb’s and Warmdaddy’s, and the Arden Theatre and Walnut Street Theatre Company. All these places and incredible music have given birth to me. It’s why I’m here..
“Schuylkill Punch is no game,” she added, saying the the river water bisecting Philadelphia has magically produced some of the best musicians in the world.
Scott was speaking directly to Patti LaBelle, who was there with Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx, members of her old group, LaBelle. Together they had a string of funk and disco hits before breaking up in 1976.
Patti LaBelle went on to enjoy an immensely successful solo career and she has her own star on Philadelphia’s Walk of Fame. This new plaque is for the entire LaBelle group.
“Most people don’t know this, but we’re still in contact with each other every day,” she said. “We plan to tour again and record again. We’re forever young, forever singing, and forever friends, forever.”
Also inducted Wednesday were Sister Sledge, the Soul Survivors — famous for the song “Expressway to Your Heart” — and the founders of Ruffhouse Records, which had the Fugee and Cypress Hill on its roster.
Posthumously inducted were the duo McFadden and Whitehead (“Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”) and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who is already remembered in a state historical marker at the site of her former home in North Philadelphia. She died in 1973.
“She tuned a guitar so special,” said the Rev. Joe Williams, formerly of the Dixie Hummingbirds, who accepted the award on behalf of Tharpe. “No guitar player today living knows how Sister Rosetta Tharp tuned her guitar.”
The Walk of Fame also included DJ Bob Pantano with a special broadcaster award. This year, Pantano celebrated his 40th anniversary of spinning records for the “Saturday Night Dance Party.”