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Labelle

Biography

Labelle began their life in the early 1960s as the Blue Belles, a girl group best known for the hit "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman." The group scored several more minor hits during the '60s, but by 1970 tastes had changed, and they lost their recording contract with Atlantic Records. It wasn't until new manager Vicki Wickham took over that the group found its new name -- and its new glam image. Embracing glam rock's glitter, disco's hedonism, and funk's dirty grooves, the trio of singers -- Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx -- became a force to be reckoned with. They brought their vocal power to bear on Laura Nyro's Gonna Take a Miracle and opened for the Who, while Hendryx's increasingly experimental songwriting pushed boundaries between rock, funk and soul. But commercial success eluded them until their fourth album, 1974's Nightbirds, with its crown jewel "Lady Marmalade." The song took over the airwaves and became one of disco's first crossover hits. Despite continuing to explore new territory with their interstellar harmonies on subsequent albums, Labelle lost the public's attention. The group amicably called it quits in 1976; after occasional reunions to play shows over the years, Labelle came back together in earnest in 2008 to release Back to Now.
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