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Singer And Co-Founder Of Labelle, Sarah Dash, Dies At Age 76

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Sarah Dash died on Monday at the age of 76. And if you don't know her name, you likely know her voice. Dash, along with Patti LaBelle and Nona Hendryx, were the first group to make the song "Lady Marmalade" a hit.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LADY MARMALADE")

LABELLE: (Singing) Gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, here - mocha chocolata, ya-ya - Creole Lady Marmalade.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

They started as a conventional girl group of a certain era named Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles and then morphed into an Afrofuturistic glam rock group, rebranding itself in 1971 as simply Labelle. Unlike other girl groups at the time, each member of the group sang both lead and background voices.

MARTIN: They also made conscious choices to talk about female empowerment in their music and in business. Dash spoke about this last March.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SARAH DASH: One of the reasons why when we became Labelle and we changed our name from Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles - we were very adamant about how and what we did. And we became an all-women organization.

MARTIN: Although the group disbanded in 1976, Dash continued her singing career solo. Her 1978 self-titled album included the disco hit "Sinner Man."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SINNER MAN")

DASH: (Singing) Take the best of me and the rest of me. Damn you, sinner man. Damn you, sinner man.

INSKEEP: She continued to make music and perform over the next four decades and just performed alongside Patti LaBelle this past Saturday, who remembers her by saying Dash was a talented, loving soul.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SINNER MAN")

DASH: (Singing) Woo, sinner man. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.