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*Patti LaBelle, 71, is dating her 41-year-old drummer Eric Seats, according to the Daily Mail Online, and the lovebirds have reportedly been seeing each other for the past year and a half.

“She tried to keep it quiet, but everyone around her has figured things out now. She’s completely smitten with him and they spend so much time together,” said the source.

LaBelle and Seats first crossed paths when he was hired to be her drummer several years ago. The singer was just coming out of a bad relationship, but thought Seats was attractive and began chatting him up  after her shows.

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“It wasn’t long before he was helping her heal her broken heart,” the source said. “He made her feel at ease and she loved that he had such a vast experience working in the music business.”

Seats moved across country just to be with Miss Patti. He left Los Angeles a year ago for Philadelphia – where LaBelle is based.

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“Patti was so happy he moved to Philly with her. She loves having him with her all the time. She even has a big portrait of the two of them up on her wall in her bedroom,” said the source.

Seats has toured with Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, Timbaland and Missy Elliott, in addition to producing songs for Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, 702 and Tank.

“Everything they do now, they do it together. She hasn’t seemed this happy in years. Apparently those who know him, say he’s always dated older women,” said a source.

Patti Labelle and her son Zuri Edwards

Patti Labelle and her son Zuri Edwards

Meanwhile, Patti’s 42-year-old son, Zuri Edwards, is reportedly against the idea of his mother dating someone younger than him.

“Not only is Zuri her son, but he’s her manager as well. He saw how hard she took her last breakup with the much-younger man she was seeing and just doesn’t want to see his mom hurt again,” explained the source.

Per Daily Mail Online:

Patti was once engaged to Otis Williams of The Temptations and was married to former school teacher turned her manager, Armstead Edwards for 31 years. They divorced in 2000. Zuri is their biological son, but Patti raised four other children as well. She adopted her sister’s son and daughter after she died of cancer and her neighbor’s two boys after her neighbor died of pneumonia.

Zuri’s resistance to this new relationship hasn’t slowed Patti down at all. The couple spent all of the holidays together. Most recently, New Year’s Eve – when the two had a quiet dinner together with friends before Seats left to go on tour in Japan with jazz artist Lalah Hathaway.

During Christmas, he and LaBelle spent three days with songwriter Denise Rich on her yacht in the Bahamas.