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LaBelle Biography


Home > Music > L > LaBelle > Biography


Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Years Active: 1960 - 1976, 2008 - present
Genres: Doo-wop, R&B, Rock 'n' Roll, Soul, Psychedelic Soul, Glam Rock, Funk, Funk Rock


Labelle is an American all female singing group who were a popular vocal group of the 1960s and 1970s. Originally forming as The Ordettes in 1960 by lead singer Patti LaBelle and childhood friend Sundray Tucker who was replaced by Cindy Birdsong in 1961 and with the inclusion of former members of the Philadelphia-based Del Capris, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx, they eventually changed their name to The Bluebelles in 1962 after signing their first recording contract. Mixing doo-wop and gospel, they became known for performing renditions of pop standards such as "Over the Rainbow" and "You'll Never Walk Alone".

After Birdsong's departure to join The Supremes in 1967, the group altered their image at least twice in the 1970s and changed their name to Labelle, performing rock-meshed soul and gospel-singing harmonies, under a pro-feminist approach and famously opening for The Who. In 1973, the group adopted a more flamboyant image and music that melded disco, funk and glam rock. This incarnation of group was best known for singing more provocative issues including racism, sexism and eroticism.

The group is most notable for the proto-disco funk classic "Lady Marmalade" and their outlandish space-age costumes and brash incorporation of rock & roll. They're also known for heralded performances at The Apollo Theater and the Metropolitan Opera House, the latter hall where they became the first contemporary pop group and first African American group to perform there. Although they never announced a breakup, after the end of a 1976 tour, each member enjoyed significant amount of solo success including Nona Hendryx, who followed an idiosyncratic muse into her own solo career, which often bordered on the avant-garde and Patti LaBelle, who's enjoyed a very successful Grammy-winning solo career.

The group returned with their first new album in 32 years with 2008's ''Back to Now''.