Sarah Dash, Founding Member of Labelle, Dies at 76
Sarah Dash, an original member of the seminal funk-rock group Labelle with Patti LaBelle and Nona Hendryx, died Monday at 76.
Dash had been busy performing lately, and her death was reportedly unexpected. Soul Tracks broke the sad news, noting no cause was given.
Patti LaBelle tweeted of the news, "We were just on-stage together on Saturday and it was such a powerful and special moment! Sarah Dash was an awesomely talented, beautiful, and loving soul who blessed my life and the lives of so many others in more ways than I can say. And I could always count on her to have my back!... Rest in power my dear sister. I love you always!"
As I reflect on my birthday I spent the day with my special girlfriends at Patti’s beautiful home.. yes darlings she cooked, one of the best birthday meals I’ve ever eaten. Fried corn, chicken, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts We laughed and reminisced of our life’s journey. pic.twitter.com/SyHZLR7eSw
Dash was born August 18, 1945, in Trenton, New Jersey, moving with her family to Philadelphia. In 1961, Dash, LaBelle, Hendryx and Sundray Tucker formed the Ordettes. Tucker was replaced by Cindy Birdsong, leading to a group called the Bluebelles and then Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles.
The group hit the Top 20 with their cover of "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" in 1962, and also achieved success with covers of "Down the Aisle (The Wedding Song)" (1963), "You'll Never Walk Alone" (1964), "Danny Boy" (1964), and "Over the Rainbow" (1966), later a signature tune for Ms. LaBelle as a solo artist.
Birdsong exited to become a Supreme, and by the early '70s, the newly rechristened Labelle had become a rock group of substance, tackling sexual and socio-economic themes with a flamboyance that led to their becoming the first Black group to on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. During the early, transitional phase of their career, Labelle opened for the Who and Laura Nyro and became a buzzed-about group, albeit one without any hits to match their word of mouth.
That changed with the release of the album "Nightbirds" in 1974. Their single "Lady Marmalade" that year became an iconic #1 smash (remade with similar success in 2001 by Christina Aguilera, Mýa, P!nk and Lil' Kim) that established the women as major touring forces.
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By 1977, they each went their separate ways. Dash enjoyed success with the 1978 disco hits "Sinner Man" (1978) and "(Come and Take) This Candy from Your Baby"; as an in-demand session singer with acts like the Rolling Stones, Chic, and the O'Jays; and as an artist at ease with rock, dance music, R&B, and gospel.
In 2008, Dash reunited with LaBelle and Hendryx for a comeback Labelle album, "Back to Now," which was critically acclaimed.
Renowned for her charitable work with homeless women and children, Dash leaves no immediate survivors.