Patti LaBelle loves to sing to her granddaughters. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star;” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow;” “Somebody Loves You, Baby” – they’re all in her arsenal. But there’s one song that they love to hear more than any other — and LaBelle knows she’s got to give the fans what they want.
“Oh, the little baby 2-year-old is singing, ‘Gitchi, gitchi, ya, ya, da, da,’ about a hooker, okay?” LaBelle says with a laugh about her now 4-year-old granddaughter Gia‘s affinity for “Lady Marmalade,” LaBelle’s megahit from 1975. Even Leyla, 23 months, wants in on the action; during a diaper change for a PEOPLE photoshoot with her “glam-ma,” she requested LaBelle’s music and “Lady Marmalade” is the one “she usually likes.”
And singalongs aren’t confined to their quality time together; LaBelle has brought her granddaughters (whose dad is her son and manager Zuri Edwards, 46) onstage – then found they’ve inherited their grandma’s love of the limelight. “We couldn’t keep Gia off the stage … She just says her name and won’t leave the stage,” LaBelle says. “And Leyla, if she came out she was going to take the mic. She’s going to turn up so I don’t trust her on the stage now.”
Her granddaughters’ affinity for music and dance is so strong, LaBelle won’t be surprised if they follow her onto the stage. “Oh God. They’re both going to be, I think, show business babies. And they’d better do it well,” she says. That’s not to say she’s a stage grandma: “No way. Uh-uh. Let them be themselves. Don’t ever want to have a show business baby who’s forced to be show business. Let her fall into it, if that’s her lane.”
Instead, LaBelle (who is following up her pie assortment at Walmart with a line of frozen soul food) hopes her granddaughters are “kind, sharing, giving and supportive of each other. I want them to be honest human beings and loving,” she says. “You got to love on people and they have that trait, so hopefully it’ll get better over time.”
For much more on Patti LaBelle’s life as a Glam-ma (including the hilarious reason you’ll never see her in sweats at the store), pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.