Sarah Dash, the “Lady Marmalade” singer who rose to fame with Patti LaBelle, has died.
Sarah Dash, the Trenton, N.J.-born singer who rose to national fame singing in vocal groups with Patti LaBelle beginning in the 1960s, died Monday at age 76, various reports and authorities report.
Dash’s passing was first reported by Soul Tracks and WDAS radio in Philadelphia and was quickly mourned on social media for his pioneering singing in the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond.
Labelle, of which Dash was a founder, reached the top of the charts in 1974 with the disco hit “Lady Marmalade.” She was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003. At the time, Labelle was a trio, along with Nona Hendryx and LaBelle.
Dash, in the 1960s, was in every iteration of the groups that would become Labelle, emerging from the Philadelphia Soul and R&B scene. It started with “The Ordettes” in 1961, The Bluebelles in 1962, and later Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. They became Labelle in 1971 and recorded and toured for much of the 1970s before its members went their separate ways.
Dash never stopped singing and performing, becoming a solo artist, a well-known session singer, and touring and recording with the Rolling Stones and Keith Richards’ solo efforts, and reunited with Labelle in the 2000s.
Dash also returned to the Trenton area frequently to sing and lecture about music and his career and attend community events, some in his honor.
When the city opened a COVID-19 vaccination center in February, Dash arrived wearing a sequined mask and invited the media to draw attention to the effort.
In July, she was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, held next month.
Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora lamented online that the city lost a “star.” He posted several clips of Dash, including one in which he recently sang and danced to “Lady Marmalade” with her.
“Today I mourn with the city of Trenton and a worldwide community of fans. Our resident legend and Trenton’s first music ambassador, Sarah Dash, has passed away. My heart goes out to her family and friends,” he said in a statement released later.
“I look forward to embracing my fellow Trentonians as we privately and collectively celebrate her music and humanitarian work. Though he may have passed from this life to the next, his star will never fade from this city and the hearts of its residents.”
Sarah Dash receives the COVID-19 vaccine.
Acclaimed Trenton-born singer Sarah Dash, right, during her COVID-19 vaccination in February 2021. At left, City of Trenton public health officer Yvette Graffie-Cooper. Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes also issued a statement.
“The legendary Sarah Dash was celebrated for her tremendous musical talent not only in Mercer County, but on the world stage throughout her more than 50-year career in the entertainment industry,” he said.
“She was beloved in Trenton because she never hesitated to use her talent to improve the lives of Trenton residents, whether it was promoting the arts in the local community or, more recently, stepping up as a role model during the coronavirus pandemic and using her voice to encourage everyone to get vaccinated. She was an inspiration to many, and she will be missed.”
Singers from left, Sarah Dash, Patti LaBelle, and Nona Hendryx, Labelle’s group, perform at a reunion concert at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, Dec. 19, 2008. SL
Sarah Dash at the College of New Jersey in 2016.TT Michael Mancuso.
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