Today, miss Sarah Dash has her 70th birthday. Hearing the name Sarah Dash may not ring a bell by many people, but hearing her songs and special voice, it does. She started as one of the four members of The Odettes, the later: Patti LaBelle And The Bluebells. Later, when one of the girls, Cindy Birdsong left the group, they became: Labelle.
Labelle: Nona Hendryx, Sarah Dash and Patti LaBelle (Click photo to enlarge).
Labelle ‘Voulez Vouz’ (Lady Marmalade)
For many people Sarah Dash, born on 18.08.1945 in Trenton, New Jersey, is best known as one-third of the otherworldly divas, Labelle. Together with Patti Labelle and Nona Hendryx she blew off many roofs then with ‘Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi, Lady Marmalade’. But we absolutely gag for her solo club classic, ‘Sinner Man’. It makes us get all sassy, hip-shakin’, neck-twistin’ and finger-wavin’. ‘Don’t be touchin’ me! Don’t be holdin’ me!’ Testify, Sister Sarah.
In 1978, Dash released her self-titled debut album, which included the top-ten disco hit, ‘Sinner Man’. She also performed vocals on several stunning ballads, notably ‘You’, and ‘We’re Lovers After All’, and ‘I Can’t Believe Someone Like You Could Really Love Me’, (with a full gospel choir backing); she also had another minor disco hit with ‘(Come and Take) This Candy from Your Baby’. Dash enjoyed much success and television and public appearances with her smash hit ‘Sinner Man’. At this time, she was asked to compose and sing ‘For The Love of You’ (the theme song for the 1980s PBS show ‘Watch Your Mouth’ and ‘Bringing It All Home’. She also guest-starred on an episode of Watch Your Mouth, playing a fictional character, a super diva with an attitude, ‘Tessie Bright’.
Sarah Dash self titled ablum from 1978 with the smash hit ‘Sinner Man’
However, on the Kirshner albums, and especially ‘Ooh La La, Sarah Dash’, she was given substandard material to work with, although she wrote ‘I Feel Good Being Me’ for this album. It featured one strong disco track, ‘Ooh La La, Too Soon’, which was used in a Sassoon jeans commercial, and Phyllis Hyman provided backing vocals to the album. But by 1980, disco was dying, and many talented divas such as Dash, Linda Clifford, Pattie Brooks, Cheryl Lynn and even Donna Summer, were at a loss as to how to proceed musically. After releasing one more musically stronger album ‘Close Enough’, for Kirshner, which features standout ballads like ‘Somebody’s Angel’ and ‘God Bless You’, and the rocker, ‘Paradise’, Dash left Kishner for other opportunities
Sarah Dash ‘Low Down Dirty Rhythem’ with Patrick Cowley
She always loved ‘happy -dance- music, and switched to High-NRG. In 1983, Dash released two dance singles for Megatone Records in San Francisco, both produced by Patrick Cowley. The first, ‘Low Down Dirty Rhythm’ was basically ignored, but the second single ‘Lucky Tonight’ (featuring background vocals by dance superstars Sylvester and Jeanie Tracy), was a real smash hit and dance floor filler, even rising to the #5 spot on Billboard‘s Dance Chart, and was even a Billboard ‘Pick of the Week’. After the succes of ‘Lucky Tonight’, ‘Low Down Dirty Rhythm’ lifted up that succes. Dash was excited about her career again and went on an extensive tour of major U.S. dance clubs. There was supposed to be an album, but because of the untimely death of Cowley, the album was never recorded. Now both songs are availble in their original long versions on the ‘Megatone Records 12 Inch Volume 1’ album
Sarah Dash ‘Lucky Tonight’ smash hit with background vocals by Sylvester & Jeanie Tracy was just finnished before Patrick Cowley’s death (Click photo to enlarge).
Dash’s most experimental musical endeavor was the recording she made on the RAP record, ‘Satisfaction’, for High Fidelity Three in 1985. This single was groundbreaking because it was one of the first (if not the first!) rap records that combined a rapper with a vocalist. It was not given much attention at the time, since rap was still in its early stages, but today it is considered a classic, especially with New York DJ’s.
Also during this time, Dash did a great deal of session work for The O’jays, Nile Rogers of Chic (duetting on a ballad with Rodgers, ‘My Love Song for You’ from, ‘The Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove’, a true collector’s item now), The Marshall Tucker Band and David Johansen. In the later 1980s, she teamed up with musician Dr. York for the duet ‘It’s Too Late’
Sarah Dash ‘You’re All I Need’
Then in 1988 she was signed to Manhattan Records, (via EMI) and released the album entitled ‘You’re All I Need’. This set included a title track duet with Patti LaBelle; a further duet ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’ with Ray, Goodman & Brown; and ‘To Tell You The Truth‘. The outstanding cuts on the CD are ‘It’s Over’, where Dash really belts out and makes full use of her vocal range, and the sweet ballad, ‘After Love’. Once again, unluckily, EMI decided not to promote the album, and it was met with only moderate success. Dash released another unnoticed dance single in 1990, ‘When You Talk to Me/Manhandled’, with disc jockey Jellybean Benitez.
In the early 1990s, Sarah developed her own one-woman show, “Dash Of Diva,” performing at different club venues, as well as doing a more jazz-flavored set that resulted in various appearances.
Also in 1988, Dash was asked to add her backing vocals to the Rolling Stones ‘Steel Wheels’ album, which eventually led to a tour with her old friend Keith Richards. They became close when Dash was still performing with Patti Labelle and The Blue Bells, who opened for Stones in the early 1960s. She recorded the duet ‘Make No Mistake’ with him, and she took the lead vocal on ‘Time Is On My Side’, showcasing her powerful delivery and vocal range, which, Keith has said in his autobiography, is ‘the best version of that song he’s ever heard’. Keith Richards invited Dash to accompany him on tour: her association with him led to another world tour, a tour with Richards’ X-pensive Winos, appearances on two of his albums, and on The Rolling Stones ‘Steel Wheels’ album in 1989. With Richards, she guested on ‘Live At The Hollywood Palledium’ in 1988, and ‘Main Offender’, in 1992.
Sisters In The Name Of Love (Click to enlarge photo).
Sarah Dash, Nona Hendryx and Patti LaBelle collaborated on each other’s projects over the years following their 1977 split. Patti LaBelle appeared in a couple of albums by Hendryx and Dash attributing background vocals and, in the case of Dash, a duet. In 1991, 15 years after their last recordings together, the group reunited on Patti LaBelle’s ‘Burnin’, recording the funky ‘Release Yourself’, another Hendryx composition. Hendryx and LaBelle co-wrote the latter’s hit, ‘When You’ve Been Blessed (Feels Like Heaven)’ on the same album. The group performed their reunion song at The Apollo Theatre in New York, during a televised special there to help Patti LaBelle promote Burnin’.
Patti, Nona and Sarah ‘Release Yourself’ Live in NY, 1991
Over the years, Sarah Dash , Patti LaBelle and Nona Hendryx stayed very good friends. They are more then that: They are sisters in the name of love. Labelle reunited again in 1995 to record the dance hit, Turn It Out, for the soundtrack to the film, ‘To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar’. The song became their first charted hit in nineteen years peaking at number-one on the Billboard dance singles chart. Labelle would announce a full-fledged reunion in 2005 after the group recorded the Rosa Parks tribute song, ‘Dear Rosa’, featured on Patti LaBelle’s TV show, Living It Up with Patti LaBelle, and after recording, with gospel artist Tye Tribbett, the gospel song, Preaching to the Choir, from the movie of the same name, which LaBelle starred in. The group would sign a recording deal with Verve Records in 2007, and recorded their new album, ‘Back To Now’ throughout late 2007 and 2008, releasing the album that October. Sadly, the Sylvester tribute song You Make Me Feel Mighty Real/Dance was only availble on the iTunes album version.
Labelle, Nona Hendryx, Patti LaBelle and Sarah Dash (Click photo to enlarge).
That year, the trio went back on tour together which carried through the spring of 2009. In an interview with the Toronto Star, Patti LaBelle explained why she, Dash and Hendryx waited over 32 years to record a full-length album: “You don’t want to half-step something this important….it was about finding the right time and place. We were never ones to do anything on anyone else’s time anyway; we were always unconventional. I still have my glitter boots to prove it.”
The group performed a triumphant show at the Apollo Theatre in New York City on December 19, 2008 (Click to enlarge photo).
Sarah Dash received a citation from the deputy Mayor of New York City, Ruth Messinger, for her work and efforts in the underprivileged New York City community, where she raised funds for homeless single women and children. With her generous time, Dash collected donations and funds she acquired for these mothers and their children which included clothing, toys, books, after-school activities, excursions to amusement parks, theater in the parks, and food.
Sarah Dash songs and albums:
- 1971 Labelle – Labelle
- 1972 Labelle – Moon Shadow
- 1973 Labelle – Pressure Cookin’
- 1974 Labelle – Night Birds (with ‘Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi, Lady Marmalade’)
- 1975 Labelle – Phoenix
- 1976 Labelle – Chameleon
- 1978 Sarah Dash – Sarah Dash (album)
- 1980 Sarah Dash – Oh La La Sarah Dash (album)
- 1981 Sarah Dash – Close Enough (album)
- 1983 Sarah Dash/Patrick Cowley – Lucky Tonight
- 1983 Sarah Dash/Patrick Cowley – Low Down Dirty Rhythm
- 1983 Sarah Dash/Nile Rodgers – My Love Song For You (From the Nile Rodgers album “Adventures In The Land Of The Good Groove
- 1985 Sarah Dash/Dr. York – ‘It’s To Late’
- 1985 Sarah Dash/High Fidelity Three – ‘Never Satisfied’
- 1988 Sarah Dash – ‘All I Need’ (album)
- 1988 Sarah Dash/Patti LaBelle – ‘Your’re All I Need’
- 1989 Sarah Dash – ‘Feel Good’
- 1990 Sarah Dash/John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez – ‘When You Talk To Me’
- 1991 Labelle – ‘Release Yourself’ (From the Patti LaBelle album ‘Burning’)
- 1995 Labelle – ‘Turn It Out’ (Soundtrack ‘To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar)
- 2005 Labelle – ‘Dear Rosa’ (Rosa Parks tribute song)
- 2007 Labelle/Tye Tribbiett – ‘Preaching to the Choir’
- 2008 Labelle – ‘Back To Now’
- 2008 LaBelle – ‘You Make Me Feel Mighty Real’ (Sylvester tribute)
- 2011 Sarah Dash/Ari Gold – ‘Sparkle’
- 2014 Sarah Dash – ‘I’m Still Here’
Today it’s miss Sarah Dash’s birthday. And she is still here! Like the tittle of her latest fantastic album ‘I’m Still Here’ proves!!
Sarah Dash: Happy Birthday!! Love Always! (Click to enlarge photo).
by Jean Amr