Patti LaBelle doesn’t sing, she belts—and wails, and gushes, and in general covers basically everything between a whisper and a scream with a poise and power unmatched in soul. Subtle? Nah. But in her expressiveness (she once joked that she was the “original drag queen”), LaBelle makes a space for feelings too big for daily life—a gift that has made her both a soul legend and an icon for an LGBTQ community seeking public voice. (She was, among other things, an early advocate for AIDS/HIV awareness.) From her early days alongside Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash in the trailblazing LaBelle through periods of raw funk, polished disco, and tender quiet storm, these tracks highlight a voice that helped shape the sound and feel of Black American music for generations.