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Interview:
Labelle Brings Reunion Show To Town
 

By Gary Graff
Of The Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

For years, Patti LaBelle used to tease her concert audiences about putting the group Labelle back together. After a while, Nonah Hendryx and Sarah Dash — who have been singing with her since 1961, first in the Ordettes and then in Patti LaBelle & The Bluebells — called her on it.

“Nona said to Pat, ‘You should probably stop saying that if it’s not gonna happen. Don’t play with our audience that way,’ ” Dash, 63, says.

Now they’re no longer playing.

After recording a tribute to the late civil rights activist Rosa Parks, “Dear Rosa,” in 2006, Labelle followed through with “Back to Now,” their first full album of new material in 31 years. Released in October and featuring tracks recorded with Lenny Kravitz, Wyclef Jean and Philadelphia soul veterans Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, it debuted at No. 45 on the Billboard 200 and at No. 9 on the magazine’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

Labelle, meanwhile, is back on the road singing hits such as 1974’s “Lady Marmalade” and talking about the possibility of another album in the near future.

“We’re still the same, but with a sense of maturity,” says Dash, who worked w ith the Rolling Stones and their guitarist, Keith Richards, during the interim. “This is the first time, probably, in the industry that a group has stayed away so long, over 30 years, and has come back to do it again. Most ... just go away and don’t ever come back.

“We’ve had separate careers, which gives us a lot more wisdom. We didn’t have each other to rely on, and we had to make more independent decisions, and we’re bringing that wealth of knowledge into this project.”





Labelle performs at 8 p.m. Friday (March 20) at SoundBoard in the Motor City Casino, 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $75 and $65. Call (313) 237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.

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