Nona Hendryx: Labelle Reunion

February 17, 2009

Meet Nona Hendryx, the singer-songwriter who is well known both as a solo artist and as a member the trio Labelle. See photos, video and a biography of the beautiful, versatile and captivating performer here.

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After 33 years, Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash, and Nona Hendryx have reunited for the Labelle Reunion tour which is getting rave reviews everywhere. The trio recently released an album, “Back to Now,�? and in concert they have been performing the album’s tracks as well as their classic, crowd pleasing signature hits, “Lady Marmalade�? (their biggest hit) and “Are You Lonely?�? and “Nightbird.”

It’s hard to believe 33 years have gone by since the girl group (which got its start as the R&B quartet, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles and later became the disco and funk trio Labelle) performed together. In energy and style, the group defies chronology as they continue to don their signature diva costumes.

Or, as Patti Labelle put it, “That’s what 64 looks like, y’all!�?

As a biography, Nona Hendryx was on born October 9, 1944 in Trenton, New Jersey. Her age is 64.

She was a member of the original Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles; the group was first established in 1959 as a quartet until Cindy Birdsong left in 1967 to join the Supremes. Manager Vicki Wickham, reinvented the group as Labelle, an edgy, category-defying ultra glamorous space age diva, proto-disco funk group. They became known for their outrageous, attention getting costumes which were reminiscent of those of drag queens and songs (such as their greatest hit “Lady Marmalade”) that were, by 1970s standards, a bit risque.

Nona Hendryx and manager Wickham were the driving force behind the resurrected girl group. Hendryx became the main songwriter for Labelle beginning with the group’s second studio album, MoonShadow.
The group disbanded in 1976 with all members pursuing solo careers; Patti LaBelle being the most well known and commercially successful of the members.

As a solo artist, Nona Hendryx retained manager Vicki Wickham, and her work has traversed many musical genres, including R&B, soul, funk, dance, hard rock, alternative rock, and world music. Her first solo album was a self-titled album of hard rock and soul and included the noteworthy track “Winning” which Santana later covered. Over the years she has worked with a diversity of artists, including Talking Heads, Keith Richardson, Arthur Baker, Prince, Peter Gabriel, and Dan Hartman.

She came out as a bisexual in 2001 in an interview with The Advocate magazine and has subsequently been an advocate of LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual) rights. As a part of her activism and raising awareness of discrimination, she toured with the Cyndi Lauper True Colors Tour in 2008.

The reunited group’s new album, “Back to Now,�? has a diversity of subject matter. It includes a Rosa Parks tribute and a notable track that addresses world peace, “Tears for the World.” written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who wrote the group’s hit “Lady Marmalade.” Other songwriters on the album include Lenny Kravitz and Wyclef Jean.

Nona Hendryx also wrote many of the songs on the album and shared her thoughts on the group’s intentions.

“We’ve made a record we hope contains music our fans from the past and newbies will love on their first listen, or grow to love even more over time as we have.”

In a recent interview, Hendryx talked about the Labelle Reunion tour, acknowledging that it was daunting to reunite after so many years..

The trepidation was always there. But the feeling behind what we do, the performing for the audience, override the trepidation. The gift of being part of a group with a lead singer with a voice like Patti’s — it’s amazing.

More photos and video are below.

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