Sarah Dash, a founding member of the Lady Marmalade trio Labelle, has died at the age of 76.
Sarah Dash, a member of the R&B group Labelle who scored a No. 1 hit in the United States with Lady Marmalade, has died at the age of 76.
Though she had allegedly informed relatives she had been feeling ill in recent days, no cause of death has been provided.
Dash was “an awesomely talented, beautiful and kind person who touched my life and the lives of so many others in more ways than
I can say,” said Patti Labelle, who co-founded the group with Dash, Nona Hendryx, and Cindy Birdsong.
I knew I could always rely on her to protect me.”
Last weekend, Dash and Labelle performed together, and Dash documented the event on her Instagram account.
Dash was dubbed “a celebrity in her own right” by Reed Gusciora, the mayor of Dash’s hometown of Trenton, New Jersey.
Dash, the daughter of a preacher and a nurse, was born in Trenton in 1945 and relocated to Philadelphia as a young lady.
She became a member of the Bluebelles, subsequently Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, a singing group formed by Dash, Labelle,
Hendryx, and Birdsong.
I Sold My Heart to the Junkman, their first song, reached the Top 20 in the United States in 1962.It was followed by hits like Down the Aisle (The Wedding Song) and doo-wop versions of classics like You’ll Never Walk Alone, Danny Boy, and Over the Rainbow.
So Birdsong joined the Supremes in 1967, and the surviving three became known as Labelle.
The ensemble expanded out, supporting Laura Nyro, covering the Who, and touring with them, with Dash’s emotional, flexible voice
spanning soprano prettiness and powerfully soulful singing.
They didn’t achieve major popular success until 1974’s Nightbirds, when the lead song Lady Marmalade, a bawdy story about a New
Orleans sex worker brightening a client’s boring existence topped the charts in the United States.
Cover versions by All Saints (1998) and Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Ma, and Pink for the Moulin Rouge album (2001) both went to No. 1 in the UK.
Labelle went on to record two more albums before taking a lengthy break, reuniting in 2008 for the album Back to Now.
Dash produced four solo albums in the interval, as well as working as a session vocalist for Nile Rodgers, the O’Jays, and others.
Dash became a member of Keith Richards’ backup band, the X-pensive Winos, and sang on the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels album.
She went on to record gospel music, act as a motivational speaker, and do charitable work later in life.
She was recruited as a Covid vaccination advocate in New Jersey earlier this year.