(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Nona Hendryx, a founding member of 1970s trio Labelle and backup vocalist on hits by Peter Gabriel, Prince, Yoko Ono, and Talking Heads, brings her distinctive art-funk and her Dream Opera – The Sound of Dreaming to MASS MoCA on Saturday, August 19, for a two-part performance collaboration with Nick Cave: a gallery performance in the exhibition “Nick Cave: Until” at 7pm, and a general admission concert in the Hunter Center at 8pm.
Hendryx’s Dream Opera program is equal parts performance art and rock show, featuring artist Nick Cave, EPD composer Richard Boulanger, and graduates and students of Boulanger’s EPD (Electronic Production and Design) program at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Nona Hendryx 72, is an original member of the trio Labelle, whose smash single, “Lady Marmalade,” is a timeless classic. Hendryx grew up in Trenton, N.J., where she first met fellow singers Sarah Dash and Patricia Holte (later, Patti Labelle). The friends began singing together in the early 1960s, and performed together for much of that decade as the Bluebelles.
The trio moved to London in 1971, where they reinvented themselves as LaBelle. Songwriting duties fell mostly to Hendryx, who favored unconventional and experimental music. The trio wound up touring as opening act for the Who and the Rolling Stones, before hitting the jackpot with “Lady Marmalade” in 1974, and subsequently disbanding in 1976.
Hendryx began her solo career in 1977 with an eponymous debut album. She also began working as a backup singer with the likes of Parliament-Funkadelic, Talking Heads, and Peter Gabriel. Hendryx was active in the Artists United Against Apartheid movement that spawned the song “Sun City,” and was a member of the Black Rock Coalition formed by Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid.
Since that time, Hendryx has continued working as a solo artist, with music that straddles the divide between R&B and experimental, as well as a vocalist for hire. She has also written a children’s book and a sci-fi musical.