Sarah Dash, Nona Hendryx, Sundray Tucker and Patricia Holt were Philly high-school teens who came together to form the singing group, The Ordettes in 1959. Tucker had to drop out due to failing grades and was replaced by Cindy Birdsong. The group was renamed The Blue Belles and became a popular live act but were unable to find the same success as recording artists.
After Birdsong left to replace Florence Ballard in The Supremes in 1967, things went downhill for this struggling act. The Blue Belles were dropped from their record label, then from their management and soon had difficulties finding work.
"Nightbirds" was their fourth album on their third record label as LaBelle and they were teamed-up with New Orleans musician, Allen Toussaint to produce. This proved to be a magical collaboration as the first single, "Lady Marmalade" was a major global smash. This racy song, about a New Orleans prostitute, topped the U.S. pop chart in 1974 and would later be inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003.
What Can I Do For You?". While this wasn't nearly as popular as the lead, I think its an amazing song. This plea for love and tolerance is elevated by the soaring harmonious voices of these exquisite singers.
LaBelle went their separate ways in 1977 and each pursued a solo career with varied success. Then, thirty-one years later, Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx reunited as LaBelle and released an album, "Back To Now" in 2008.
Listen and enjoy my tune of the day:
"What Can I Do For You?" - LaBelle (1974)
As a bonus, here is LaBelle performing "Lady Marmalade" live on Soul Train: