Lady Marmalade singer and Labelle co-founder Sarah Dash dies


R&B singer Sarah Dash, who co-founded the groundbreaking group Labelle which had a number one hit with Lady Marmalade, has died aged 76.

Dash was also the co-founder of Patti LaBelle and The Bluebelles, which opened for The Rolling Stones during a lengthy US tour in 1965.

It was Patti LaBelle who confirmed the news of Dash’s death on Twitter on Tuesday as she paid tribute to a “beautiful and loving soul”.

The group changed its style and musical direction to form the pioneering all-female group Labelle in 1971 – with their music becoming known for its fusion of rock, funk and R&B.

From left: Patty LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash were known for their outlandish outfits as members of Labelle
(L-R): Patty LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash were known for their outlandish outfits as members of Labelle

Dash, LaBelle and fellow member Nona Hendryx were also known for wearing space-age and glam costumes.

Labelle hit its peak with the disco smash Lady Marmalade in 1974, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US.

The song is known for its sexually suggestive French chorus of “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?”, which translates into English as “Do you want to sleep with me?”

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The song was re-recorded by Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink and rapper Lil’ Kim in 2001 and became a big hit, reaching number one in both the US and the UK.

Patti LaBelle shared a Twitter thread on Tuesday which included a tribute, a video, and and image of her with her longtime singing partner and friend.

She wrote: “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! That’s who Sarah was … loyal friend and a voice for those who didn’t have one.”

LaBelle ended by saying: “Rest in power my dear sister. I love you always!”

After Labelle broke up in 1976, Dash embarked on a solo career and sang on The Rolling Stones’ 1989 album Steel Wheels and did session work for the O’Jays and Nile Rodgers.

Reed Gusciora, the mayor of Trenton, New Jersey, where Dash was born, paid tribute on Facebook on Tuesday.

He wrote: “Trenton lost a star today with Sarah Dash’s passing. She is now with the angels.”

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