EXCLUSIVE: Patti LaBelle Films Holiday Cooking Show with Her Famous Pie Fan: ‘He’s Like My New Son’

12/03/2015 at 02:22 PM ET

Patti LaBelle Pie Cooking Channel
Courtesy Cooking Channel

Patti LaBelle has given her most prominent fan the whirlwind experience of a lifetime.

The songstress’ line of sweet potato pies at Walmart became this Thanksgiving’s hot ticket item after superfan James Wright Chanel posted an instantly viral YouTube video (literally) singing its praises.

Since then, the two have become close friends, spending Thanksgiving together at LaBelle’s house and even filming a holiday television special set to air on the Cooking Channel, PEOPLE has learned exclusively.

RELATED: Patti LaBelle’s Pies Fly Off Shelves After Hilarious Food Review Goes Viral

“It’s one of those blessed stories,” LaBelle tells PEOPLE. “For his birthday, which is Thanksgiving, we were at my home. I invited him to dinner before I even met him.”

In fact, their first meeting was on the set of the show. “It was his first time seeing me, so when he came into the kitchen, he saw me and my back was turned. He came up behind me and he had on these beautiful leopard pants and a necklace,” the singer says. “We just had a love moment.”

And now, LaBelle sees herself not only as a mentor, but as a mother figure for Chanel. “He’s such a larger than life person himself; he’s like my new son. It’s just a blessing when people come into your life like this and you’re not expecting anything.”

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It’s a sentiment that the YouTube star certainly echoes. “When she first called, it was like we’d known each other forever; we talked like we were best friends,” Chanel tells PEOPLE. “I told her, ‘I have to tell my mom that Patti is my new momma too.’ I said, ‘Patti, you my momma!'”

As for what we can expect from the special, the pair ensures that there will be sweet potato pie, as well as a variety of other pies. “He’s a great sous chef, I found out,” LaBelle says.

Patti LaBelle Pie Cooking Channel
Courtesy Cooking Channel

For Chanel, the whole experience has been life-changing. “For the past few weeks, my life has been planes and hotels,” he says.

“I’ve always tried to perform with [Patti]. When she does ‘Lady Marmalade’, she calls people on stage to sing. At all of the concerts I’ve been to I never got a chance to make it on stage. And now I’m gonna be on stage with her.”

RELATED: How to Turn an Apple into a Mini Salted Caramel Apple Pie (VIDEO)

Yes, you read that right — the two are also planning a concert performance together. “We’re going to perform in more ways than one. He can be my lead singer and I’ll be his background singer,” LaBelle says.

You can watch the pair together (and get the famous pie recipe) on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 8:30 E.T. on the Cooking Channel.

—Shay Spence, @chezspence

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Showing 13 comments

S. on

He is hilarious. Love him.

DaisyMoon on

I agree with S.
Love him and his video….

Glad Patti did this for him…if it had been Ina Garten, he’d be out of luck…
(she won’t let a sick child cook with her, so surely she wouldn’t give this sweet man the time of day).

runningbacongirl on

I love this! I am so happy that it worked out for him and for her! He is so funny. I can’t wait to see the special.

digit on

He is hilarious, awesome and a totally great singer!

Lynn Reese on

Such a humbling experience…Ms.
Patti I knew you were a down to earth girl lol lol. Chanel you must have an awesome voice to share the stage with Ms. Patti. May God bless the both of you. I just love it.

Rosie on

Come on Patti Labelle, give the dude a contract for your pie Comercial already

Love you Pattie!

jay on

Whoa…now that is what’s up Patti. I am happy how this worked out for both of you.

Tylene on

I seen the video and ran to Walmart I bought 3 pies myself went back to Walmart and can’t find any. Patti pies are all sold out! James I think you are amazing good luck!!! now I’m excited can’t wait to see the special on the 16th.

Sunny on

Patti seems like a lovely person.

Anonymous on


SliceOHeaven on

Patti is looking great!

And that pie is wonderful!

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