Milwaukee, WI â€” Another night, another record-breaking attendance, and a new attitude.Â PrideFest continued into its second day with stellar performances by Lena Katina of electronica group t.A.T.u, pop opera singer Rose Jang, Oprah-favorite Charice, comedian Bruce Vilanch and the legendary Miss Patti LaBelle.
Before the diva and divas-in-training took the stage, PrideFest’s day was filled with educational, family, youth, and health activities.Â The LGBT History Project chronicles the community’s heritage in an intimate tent just near the entrance of the festival.Â Families enjoyed magicians and animal showcases.Â Youth participated in fashion shows and an inter-generational dialogue.Â PrideFest hosted HIV testing in the Health and Wellness Area.Â Mayor Tom Barrett even paid a visit applauding PrideFest for another “lovely festival.”
As the cloudy day turned into a clear night, Lena Katina’s high-octave voice filled the evening air.Â The beautiful siren sang solo ballads as well as hits from her days as one-half of the electronica/dance music group t.A.T.u.Â After a colorful fireworks display, Bruce Vilanch hosted the headline show likening the festival to “a gay cruise.” The show also featured Rose Jang and Charice (who won acclaim and an enthusiastic thumbs up from Oprah Winfrey and Patti LaBelle ).Â Lena Katina even did the can-can backstage as Jang sang, “All That Jazz.”
But the show stopper was the woman who paved the way for all of the songbirds mentioned thus far…Patti LaBelle.Â An illustrious career that still continues to flourish and evolve to this day, LaBelle graced the Miller Lite Main Stage with hits such as “New Attitude,” “On My Own,” “Lady Marmalade,” “If Only You Knew,” and the awesomely appropriate “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
LaBelle’s presence on stage was both full of awe and full of humility.Â During “If Only You Knew” she walked up to one of the signers to learn the sign language for her lyrics.Â She kicked off her high-heeled shoes to replace them with flatter sandals (bejeweled of course).Â The singer requested air conditioning be turned on stating that “menopause is in the house.” Labelle even defied security’s advice and brought a disorderly patron on stage, hugging the patron and ensuring that he was escorted back to his seat.
“We’re two steps away from everything,” LaBelle said.Â “Loneliness.Â Happiness.Â Our last paycheck.Â Loving our neighbor, black, white, gay, straight…Â stay gay! Stay the way you are!”