Since 1942, the United States has observed February as Black History Month. Here at CBSNewYork, we’re celebrating it by recognizing accomplished black New Yorkers. Below, Larry Mullins reflects on his experience with Patti Austin.

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I thought I would pass out. Somebody stole my Patti!

Remember the little plump lady, who used to sing with James Ingram (and so many other artists), who used to sing that song “Baby Come to Me,” (Luke and Laura’s theme on that soap opera General Hospital).

Yeah, that Patti Austin.

Well some little skinny lady came waltzing into our studio’s at CBS, claiming to be her. I almost called security, until she laughed, and she started singing…and that’s when I knew it was her!

OMG! She looks amazing! She lost ALL of her weight! Ms. Austin came to see us today, for our Black History series.

134610624 10 1010 WINS Black History Month Spotlight: Patti Austin

(photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

First, she schooled me on why she had to lose so much weight: In the name of good health.

Now, Patti didn’t put it as nicely as I just did in this blog, (but because she’s crazy and she’s loud, I’m not going to repeat it the way she said it). Oh what a funny lady.

I didn’t know that Patti included comedy in her shows. She says she was playing a club in New York one evening, and a car tailpipe “backfired”. She made a joke of it, and the rest, as they say, is history. Just to talk with her, with that big laugh, the voice caricatures, the frank down to earth talk; ah…she is great friend to just hang out with. Patti is a Bayshore, Long Island chick. She says her mom and dad inspired her to get into music.

Dad was a popular trombonist, and mom worked at the “Y” up in Harlem, which was the place where black people went to eat, chat, pick up chicks, whatever. Well through all those relationships, she met Dinah Washington and Quincy Jones, who eventually ended up being her godparents. But oh the experiences she had coming up, and the whirlwind of places she’s visited and venues where she has performed would make your head spin. She says her mom would serve Lena Horne some nights at the restaurant. And check this out: she says the Luke and Laura thing wasn’t even made for General Hospital. No. She says the song came out and flopped. And then some guy in a basement of ABC heard it, and revived it as a show theme, at a time when TV shows started using popular music.

Listen: Larry Mullins’ Complete Interview With Patti Austin

And it took off like wildfire, (although she says they had to pay their own money to get it re-launched, because the record company wasn’t having it, Luke and Laura and the Ice Princess or not). Lucky her. But folks it was really neat meeting Patti Austin. I’ve loved her voice and her charm for years. I didn’t know she was crazy (in a fun good way I mean). That lady had us rolling in the studio! I guess because I laughed the whole while, I couldn’t get her to take me seriously when I told her that she and I could have been great together, as a duet, (instead of that old James Ingram). Oh quit hatin’…I can dream if I want! Love you Patti!!!

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