Sarah Dash has died at the age of 76.
The legendary singer was co-founder of pioneering R&B/rock group Labelle who released the hugely popular song Lady Marmalade in 1974.
The cause of her death is still unknown.
Tributes poured in for the star following the news, with one of the group’s other co-founders, Patti LaBelle, calling her a “talented soul” in a heartfelt statement.
Patti, 77, said in a statement to Billboard: “We were just onstage together on Saturday [Sept. 18] and it was such a powerful and special moment.
“Sarah Dash was an awesomely talented, beautiful and loving soul who blessed my life and the lives of so many others in more ways than I can say. I could always count on her to have my back.
She continued: “That’s who Sarah was … a loyal friend and a voice for those who didn’t have one. She was a true giver, always serving and sharing her talent and time.”
Patti went on to say she was “heartbroken” but knew that the singer’s “spirit and all that she has given to the world live on”.
She concluded: “And I pray that her precious memory brings us peace and comfort. Rest in power my dear sister. I love you always!”
Sarah was born in 1945 in New Jersey and relocated to Philadelphia in the mid-‘60s. There, she teamed up with Nona Hendryx, Patti LaBelle and Sundray Tucker to form The Ordettes.
After several name changes, the group – minus Sundray – began to get recognised in 1971 under the name Labelle.
Michael Ochs Archives)
They became known for their impressive vocals and funky wardrobes and their biggest hit came in the form of Lady Marmalade from their 1974 album Nightbird.
The song went on to top the charts yet again when it was re-recorded by Christina Aguilera, Mýa, Pink and rapper Lil’ Kim for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack.
When Labelle split in 1976, Sarah went solo and released several successful albums.
They later reunited in the early 1990s and released number one dance hit Turn It Out. They again got back together in 2008 for their reunion album Back to Now.
In 2016, Sarah was recognised with the Lifetime Achievement Award by The National R&B Music Society.
Fans and famous faces took to social media on Monday night to pay their respects to the singer.
Bootsy Collins wrote on Twitter: “Danggit! We lost another, Ms. Sarah Dash (8-18, 1945 – 9 20, 2021) was an American singer & actress. She 1st appeared as a member of Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles, later in Labelle, worked as a singer, musician & sideman for The Rolling Stones, and Keith Richards. R.I.P WE LOVE!”
Gloria Gaynor penned: “I’m saddened to hear of the passing of my peer and fellow New Jerseyan, @SarahDash. We have lost yet another great talent.
“My heartfelt condolences to her family, friends & fans.”
And Stephanie Mills said: “Rest well my friend #SarahDash. Your kind spirit and words will always have a special place in my heart. You will be missed.”