Sarah Dash, Singer and Co-Founder of Labelle, Dies at Age 76

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Sarah Dash, wearing a striking gold jacket, laughs on the red carpet, one hand over her chest.
Sarah Dash attends the Jazz Foundation of America's 14th Annual 'A Great Night in Harlem' Gala Concert. The Apollo Theater, New York, October 2015. (Theo Wargo/ Getty Images for The Jazz Foundation of America)

Sarah Dash, the singer and co-founder of the all-female singing group Labelle, best known for their 1974 hit "Lady Marmalade," died Monday at the age of 76.

Dash's bandmate Patti LaBelle announced her longtime friend's death on social media.

"We were just onstage together on Saturday and it was such a powerful and special moment!" LaBelle said on Twitter. "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! That's who Sarah was ... a loyal friend and a voice for those who didn't have one."

Nona Hendryx rounded out the Labelle trio. Hendryx shared on Instagram of the passing of her former bandmate, "Words are inadequate so I will use few. We spoke a musical language, music says it best. Singing brought us together..."


She added that the two had just talked and texted on Saturday. "Now you're gone, I can't believe it," Hendryx said.

Labelle started out as the conventional girl group called Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles and changed into an Afro-futuristic glam rock group (even changing the name to Labelle to complete the transformation) in 1971.

Unlike other girl groups of the time, each member of the group sang both lead and background voices.

They also embraced a futuristic look—complete with spacesuits and feathers. With their biggest hit, "Lady Marmalade," the group also embraced a sexually suggestive and empowering message.

After the group disbanded in 1976, Dash continued performing as a solo singer, releasing several albums over the years. She became well-established as a session singer, recording and performing with Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones.

LaBelle went on to say on Twitter of her friend: "She was a true giver, always serving and sharing her talent and time. I am heartbroken, as I know all of her loved ones and fans are. But I know that Sarah's spirit and all that she has given to the world live on. And I pray that her precious memory brings us peace and comfort. Rest in power my dear sister. I love you always!"

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