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Labelle Trio Enlists Lenny Kravitz For First Album In More Than Three Decades

Labelle, one of music’s most revolutionary female trios is back and their not holding anything back. Patti Labelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash, R&B’s most original and formidable trio are reuniting via Verve Records to deliver their first full-length studio album in more than 33 years. The new recording, to be completed in June and on course for a global unveiling in the fall of 2008, is being produced by a trio of icons equally up to the task: cutting edge funk rocker Lenny Kravitz and longtime Labelle collaborators and 2008 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Gamble & Huff. Often cited as a key influence for a new generation of female trailblazers such as Erykah Badu and Christina Aguilera, the new songs crafted by Labelle also reflect the growth, wisdom and healing that exemplifies their individual storied paths after going their separate ways more than 32 years ago. Braced, as always, by their trademark vocal firepower, the 2008 version of the supergroup still relies on their expansive range, show-stopping sense of theatricality, and as Nona puts it, their innate ability to “pull together as sisters and ‘Labelle-ize’ the music and the vibe and the spiritual side of what we do like nobody else on the planet.” Concocting an energized blend of uptempo songs and heart-wrenching ballads, the new recording includes the mesmerizing “Candlelight,” the driving “System,” the scorching “Superlover,” and the old school/Gamble & Huff-helmed “Living Without You,” resulting in an edgy but fan-pleasing album that once again finds Labelle embarking on a riveting musical narrative. “The thread that always runs through is that we’re sisters and we’ll always be sisters,” declares Patti. A connection between the three that may have frayed now and then over the years, but always remained unbreakable “The timing for us getting together was perfect,” says Nona. “About a year and a half ago we met in the studio to record a tribute to civil rights icon Rosa Parks and we just felt in our bones it was time to do this.” It was Nona who tapped eclectic rocker Lenny Kravitz for initial production duty on the new disc. “We’re friends and admirers of each other’s work. We talked to him about the idea of us getting together and invited him to a session. He showed up that day at 5:00 and we haven’t stopped working since.” Where Kravitz represents the next-generation appeal of the Labelle magic, legendary songwriters/producers Gamble & Huff were part of the Philadelphia/New Jersey nexus that helped launch the careers of the famous trio and give birth to the most popular soul sounds of the 1970s including the O’Jays and Teddy Pendergrass. Labelle’s long-awaited return to the studio signifies yet another chapter in the historic legacy of the group. But all three members are quick to assert it’s not the final one. There will be a tour. After all, the live component of Labelle has often been cited as their most unforgettable dynamic. “We’re going to bring to the fans everything they’ve been asking for. We haven’t lost our edge,” assures Nona. “I feel we’re better because of everything we’ve gone through,” seconds Sarah. For a group whose roots indeed go all the way back to opening up for icons such as James Brown and Otis Redding, leave it to Patti to wrap it up — true Labelle style. “I think all you gotta say is ‘we’re here.’ We’re like that caged bird. If you love it, you open the door and let it fly because you know it’s going to come back stronger. Well, we’re back, baby. Anyone that knows Labelle knows we don’t know how to hold anything back.”

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