Labelle were an American soul-funk trio from Philadelphia that emerged from the 1960s vocal act Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles, retaining the namesake frontwoman along with fellow ‘belles Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx. The group collaborated with Laura Nyro on the Columbia release Gonna Take a Miracle and issued two albums on Warner Bros. in 1971/72, followed by a third on MCA in 1973. Between 1974 and 1976, the group released three albums on Epic.

Members: Sarah Dash, Nona Hendryx, Patti LaBelle

The roots of Labelle trace to The Ordettes, a girl group co-founded in 1960 by Philly teenager Patricia “Patti” Holt. By late 1961, the lineup stabilized with two new members: Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx, who hailed from the Trenton, NJ, girl group The Del-Capris. Over the next year, they built a following on the Chitlin’ Circuit.

In 1962, they were joined by another Jerseyite, singer Cindy Birdsong. That year, they issued three singles on Philly-press Newtown. They were sent on a proxy tour for The Starlets — a contractually entangled act then charting with “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman” — under the incognito name the Blue Belles, which stuck. Amid the bad press and litigation, Newtown founder Harold Robinson gave Holt a stage name, Patti LaBelle.

Further Newton singles followed in 1963, including “Down the Aisle (The Wedding Song)” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which both charted after being issued nationally on King and Parkway, respectively. In 1965, the Blue Belles served as the US opening act for the Rolling Stones and signed to Atlantic, which issued the single “All Or Nothing.” It features on their debut studio album, Over the Rainbow, released in 1966.

On their first UK tour, the Blue Belles were backed by Bluesology, which featured a young pianist named Reginald Dwight, later known as Elton John. In 1967, they charted with “Take Me for a Little While” from their second album, Dreamer. That year, Birdsong left to join The Supremes, where she replaced Florence Ballard. The remaining trio issued further Atlantic singles in 1968/69 but fell out of favor with the label.

In 1970, they hired talent manager Vicki Wickham, the former production assistant on the ’60s UK music program Ready Steady Go! The two parties met several years beforehand when the Blue Belles appeared on a taping. Wickham advised an image overhaul for the group to accompany their newfound grittier approach to music-making. She also suggested a name-change, from the ’60s pop-sounding Blue Belles to the ’70s one-word moniker Labelle. The new-look trio opened for The Who on a massive New York concert and signed to that band’s label, Track Record.


  • Labelle (1971)
  • Gonna Take a Miracle (1971 • Laura Nyro and Labelle)
  • Moon Shadow (1972)
  • Pressure Cookin’ (1973)
  • Nightbirds (1974)
  • Phoenix (1975)
  • Chameleon (1976)


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