Labelles Sarah Dash Dies at 76 – Billboard

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But it wasn’t until the group’s 1971 reincarnation as the trio Labelle that things began to click. Eschewing the sophisticated glamour associated with girl groups then, Labelle switched to Afros and funkier wardrobes — and later space suits — to open for acts like The Who and record more socially, sexually and politically conscious songs such as  the ballad “Can I Speak to You Before You Go to Hollywood?,” featuring Dash’s strong soprano as co-lead. All of this opened the door to Labelle’s biggest commercial success with “Lady Marmalade” from their 1974 album Nightbirds. “Lady Marmalade” reached No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Soul Singles (now Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs). The classic single was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003 and the National Recording Registry in 2020. The album Nightbirds reached the top 10 on both the Billboard 200 and Soul LP’s (now Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums). After subsequent albums Phoenix and Chameleon in 1975 and 1976, respectively, Labelle broke up and Dash embarked on a solo career.

Her 1978 eponymous debut album featured the top 10 Hot Dance Club Songs hit “Sinner Man,” which was also Dash’s only Billboard Hot 100 hit, reaching No. 71 the following year. Three other solo albums followed: Ooh La La, Sarah Dash in 1980, Close Enough in 1983 and You’re All I Need in 1988. Subsequent singles of note included “Ooh La La, Too Soon” (later used in a Sassoon jeans commercial) and the top 20 Hot Dance Club Songs hit “Lucky Tonight.” Dash also did session work for the O’Jays, Chic’s Nile Rodgers, The Marshall Tucker Band and David Johansen. The late ‘80s into the early ‘90s found Dash doing session work, writing songs and touring with Keith Richards and also hitting the road with the Rolling Stones.

After developing and touring with her own one-woman show, Dash of Diva, in the early ‘90s, Dash reunited with Hendryx and LaBelle for the No. 1 dance hit “Turn It Out” from the 1995 soundtrack, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. The trio came back together again in 2008 for the critically acclaimed reunion album Back to Now (featuring the Dash-led political song “System”), collaborating with producers Lenny Kravitz, Wyclef Jean,and Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff. Dash was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by The National R&B Music Society in 2016.

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