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Monday, August 31, 2015

Exclusive Q&A with Sarah Dash -- part 1 of 2

Sarah performing at Hearts & Voices
Gitcha gitcha ya-yas, dadas! Here's the first installment of my Q&A with the wonderful Sarah Dash. You may be surprised by many of the things you'll learn, like what a tireless political advocate and defender of human dignity she is. Sarah just turned 70 though she looks decades younger and, in this interview, we discuss the full spectrum of her career from her '60s gir-group period up until today. Thank you so much, Sarahl You are beautiful both outside and in. 

Buddy Beaverhausen: I had such a blast at your birthday brunch at 54 Below last week. Can you tell us what it was like for you?
Sarah Dash: Well, it truly exceeded all my expectations. The idea for this started in Washington, DC, and most of the people who put it together are from that area. I work with Grammy on the Hill. Each year, we go to DC and visit Congressmen and Senators at the Capitol and present them with our issues, our bills. One of them is about copyright issues. Special kudos to Congressmen Rush Holt and John Conyers for bringing this to the Floor. We also got to meet with Corey Booker and have the chance to see Michelle Obama present Alicia Keyes with a landmark award. I also met Elizabeth Warren, Grammy nominee for Spoken Word. And while I was down there, I spoke at the University of Virginia, So it was one thing after the other.
   I was going to have a little get-together at home, turn on my shiny grill and have some friends to dine with me out on the gazebo. But my friend Marvin Johnson said no. So, when I walked into the club, I was astounded. There was just so much love in the room! And everyone came to enjoy themselves. It was one of the best parties I've ever had! So many old friend, and new ones like you ~ you know, we just clicked the first time we met! Nona's speech just touched my heart, as well. It was wonderful! People came from all over the country. Tweaka Turner came all the way in from San Francisco, where she does her radio show. It was a great moment and experience and I cannot tell you just how wonderful I felt that day.

BB: At the Studio 54 event, you said you are and have been a big supporter of the LGBT community. Can you expand on that a little for our readers?
SD: Yes. When I came back to Trenton to restore and renovate the house I grew up in, I had Rush Holt there and the issue of the needs of the LGBT community came up. It's not about the shows or the glamor but these are people who have political issues. It's about human rights and treating people as equals. No one has a right to say "you're excluded" or "you're an exception." And it all started with Stonewall, of course, because sometimes that's the only way you can make yourselves heard. And the hypocrisy in this country by those who oppose equality or government assistance... that's a major problem for us. That's what we stand against. LGBT people were saying "I matter too!" Black people matter, all people matter.

BB: I heard that -- when you were with Patti Labelle and The Bluebelles -- Motown confused your voice as being Cindy Birdsong's, which is how she got selected for The Supremes. Is that true?
SD: I've heard that, too, but don't know if it's true or not. When Cindy left the group, it was quite a shock to us. But Cindy had her own career and I've been so blessed with my own. We have two very different voices and I really have no regrets about my own career path.

BB: I saw you at 54 below earlier this year at the tribute to Lesley Gore. How did you become involved in that?
SD: Tracy Stark is my musical director and she invited me to be part of this show. I always admired Lesley Gore as a singer, songwriter and ultimately a strong woman making it in what was then a man's world basically. I had just had a mammogram and that night, just before I went on, I heard from my doctor that I had to have a biopsy taken. Can you imagine what I was like that night? But I'm ok, I'm ok!

BB: Could you tell us who The Ordettes were?
SD: Oh, our girl group before The Bluebelles! It was Cindy and me and two other girls. Patti was then with the Del-Capris. We all disbanded and formed The Bluebelles together.

BB: Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles are an iconic '60s girl group. What was your favorite song from that group and do you ever perform "I sold my Heart to the Junkman" these days?
SD: I love the song and I have performed it solo, but not in a while. It's such a part of the history of the group. And I expect to be performing it in the future.

BB: I also recall you and Nona at the Laura Nyro retrospective outdoors at Lincoln Center a couple of summers back. Could you tell us about working with Laura Nyro and how that helped transition the Bluebelles to becoming Labelle?
SD: We had already become Labelle before recording that album with Laura, so it had nothing to do whatsoever with our "transitioning." What happened was: we went to London and we were managed there by The Who's management, and they were the ones to transform our lives and our onstage personas. Then, when we were performing one night, Laura Nyro came and saw us and, after the show, said, let's collaborate on something. And Gonna Take a Miracle was born. Nona and I loved being able to pay tribute to Laura, such a great artist.

[part 2 to come Wednesday]

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