Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s epic Instagram Live battles remain one of the most popular forums for entertainment during quarantine. Launched in March, the virtual battles are some of the most-watched content on the social platform amid the coronavirus pandemic.
That continued to hold true for LaBelle and Knight’s set took place live from Philadelphia’s Fillmore Theater which coincided with season-opening NFL games. More than half a million people tuned into the music battle. The night started off with “Love, Need, And Want” from LaBelle and “Someone to Watch Over Me” from Knight before both ladies took a moment to reflect over the historic occasion.
The legendary soulstresses reminisced over the time they first met each other and how they came up in the music industry together. LaBelle expressed how grateful she was for the moment given that musicians and artists have been unable to hold live performances for the past seven months due to the global coronavirus pandemic, saying “it’s the closest we’ve gotten since COVID to performing and this is such a blessing for us to do for two hours or three hours, or whatever long we’re gonna do.”
Knight added, “and I hope the music we’re delivering them right now is something positive. We’re talking and we’re singing about love. We’re talking about sisters and families and all of those kinds of things. I think those are the things that we need to focus on rather than some of the other stuff that’s happening because it kills me.”
The two then discussed their children and grandkids which led to LaBelle hilariously confessing that she still uses a flip phone, to which Knight quipped “ain’t nothing wrong with yesterday.”
From there, the match got underway as the two icons took viewers down memory lane of the decades-long careers. They expertly delivered classics like “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “Lady Marmalade," “Neither One Of Us,” and “Right Kind of Lover” among many others while singing along to each other's songs. When they noticed forever FLOTUS Michelle Obama in the virtual front row, LaBelle and Knight paused to give her and Barack Obama a shout-out.
There were some slight technical problems with the sound going out occasionally but their live vocals more than made up for the snafu. Keeping in mind their platform, LaBelle and Knight also reminded folks to get out and vote in the approaching presidential elections come November throughout the evening.
The highlight of the night came when LaBelle’s 1998 classic, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was up on the queue and she kicked off her heels after she hit a high note.
Just when it seemed their match couldn’t be any more epic, Dionne Warwick showed up towards the end of the event. Warwick joined her soul sisters to sing “That’s What Friends Are For.”
“I haven’t seen you guys in so long," Warwick greeted LaBelle and Knight. Together, the three ladies delivered one last powerhouse performance of “Superwoman” to close out the night.
LaBelle and Knight’s Verzuz match didn’t exactly follow the traditional 20-song format of previous matches but their musical masterclass was certainly one for the books.
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(Photo: Walter McBride/Getty Images)