Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx, Keith Richards honor Sarah Dash as she's inducted into N.J. Hall of Fame

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Sarah Dash died in September, but her words echoed loud and clear Saturday night as the music great was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

The hall, with the permission of Dash’s family, shared the singer’s prerecorded remarks in full at the virtual ceremony, hosted by Asbury Park’s own Danny DeVito.

“I am so thankful to be a part of the New Jersey Hall of Fame,” she said, her bright pink lipstick and striped blouse picking up the blush tones on her nails and the roses behind her. “It means very much to me.”

“And I’m going to get my gitchi ya-ya da-das by telling you that if it wasn’t for Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles and Labelle, I would not be sitting here tonight. Studying music has been a very important part to me. Being the music and arts ambassador for the city of Trenton means more.”

From there, Dash appeared with LaBelle and Nona Hendryx, her group mates in the Bluebelles and Labelle, and together they performed a snippet from the opening of “Lady Marmalade,” the 1974 hit that landed them on top of the charts and in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

“Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, go sister.”

Dash was 76 when she died Sept. 20, months after she was chosen for induction into the state hall of fame. Her Oct. 2 memorial service was livestreamed on the New Jersey Hall of Fame YouTube page.

“I was heartened to think that at least Sarah knew just how much she was loved and respected by the New Jersey Hall of Fame, the state of New Jersey and by her beloved hometown, the city of Trenton,” said Steve Edwards, president of the hall of fame’s board of trustees.

LaBelle, standing next to Hendryx — both are 77 — shared the group’s nickname for Dash — “Little Inch.”

“That’s what we called her back in the day because she was shorter than both of us,” she said. “The most beautiful high voice I’ve ever heard — angelic.”

“I learned a lot from Sarah Dash,” LaBelle said. “Thank you, Sarah, for teaching me.”

“Sarah is very generous and she’s always helping the youth in New Jersey,” Hendryx said.

If it wasn’t for Dash, who heard her singing in church, Hendryx said she never would have joined a local group.

“That is why I sit here today with Patti LaBelle,” she said.

Dash became a solo artist in 1977, and went on to record the hit 1978 song “Sinner Man.” She often worked with Keith Richards and The Rolling Stones.

Richards, also 77, shared a message for Dash’s hall of fame induction before her death. Stones drummer Steve Jordan joined him.

“I think New Jersey deserves congratulations for recognizing their own talent,” Richards said.

Yet another tribute to Dash could be found in a performance of “Sinner Man” from Terry Jones, Carol Riddick and Helen Bruner, members of the Recording Academy’s Philadelphia chapter.

A series of famous faces introduced and helped induct the newest class of the New Jersey Hall of Fame at the hall’s 13th induction ceremony (and second virtual ceremony).

“Hopefully next time we’ll be able to be together in the same room,” said DeVito, 76. “And celebrate the way New Jerseyans do.”

Here are some more highlights:

Quincy Jones, 88, appeared in a video message to welcome Englewood’s George Benson, 78, to the hall.

Benson, a 10-time Grammy winner known for smooth hits like “This Masquerade” and the Jones-produced “Give Me The Night,” said New Jersey was a source of inspiration over his long career.

“The amount of years that have gone by that I spent in New Jersey, all up and down New Jersey, playing at different venues to the different audiences that gave me the ideas that still swirl around in my head, and all the great memories that I have — I thank you, New Jersey,” he said.

Emmy-winning actor Judith Light, 72, who hails from Trenton, was on hand to honor Salem County activist David Mixner, 75, praising his work in support of the LGBTQ community and AIDS and HIV patients.

Tony-nominated “Hamilton” and “Book of Mormon” actor Rory O’Malley performed King George III’s song “You’ll Be Back” from “Hamilton,” both in tribute to Mixner and Alexander Hamilton himself, who is an inductee this year in the public service category.

Former President George W. Bush, 75, introduced another posthumous inductee from Trenton, former Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016 at the age of 79.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, 49, Scalia’s former law clerk, shared remembrances of the man.

“Those close to him also got to see his zest for life,” she said. “How he belted out showtunes and opera in his chambers. How he relished anchovy pizza washed down with Chianti at lunchtimes at his favorite Italian dive. And, how he proudly displayed a picture of himself dressed not in a black robe, but in camo, holding up his wild turkey prize from a hunting trip.”

Scalia’s grandson, also named Antonin Scalia, appeared as part of the ceremony.

Also in the mix with Gov. Phil Murphy and first lady Tammy Murphy: Livingston’s Chelsea Handler, 46. “GMA” anchor Robin Roberts, 60, helped to induct Pennington’s Val Ackerman, 61, the first president of the WNBA.

Former Yankees player Al Leiter, 55, was there to induct Monte Irvin, the outfielder in the Negro leagues and major leagues from Orange who played with the Newark Eagles, New York Giants and Chicago Cubs. Irvin was 96 when he died in 2016.

Tom Kean, the 86-year-old 48th governor of New Jersey (and former chair of the 9/11 Commission), helped to induct Teaneck’s Paul Volcker, the 12th chair of the Federal Reserve, who died in 2019.

Host Danny DeVito pulled double duty as he introduced folk and country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter, 63, from Princeton.

The hall of fame proceedings aired on My9NJ Saturday night, as well as on the hall of fame’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Miss the ceremony and want to see it? There will be rebroadcasts Sunday, Oct. 17; Sat., Oct. 23 and Sunday, Oct. 24. The show will also air at 8 p.m. on Wed., Oct. 20 on NJ PBS, with further airings Oct. 22 and 23.

Here is the full list of inductees for 2021, which includes 17 people — eight men and nine women.

The recipients of the hall’s Unsung Hero award are all first responders who suffered complications or died as a result of their service on Sept. 11, 2001. Paterson native John Pizzarelli delivered a rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend” in their honor.


George Benson, Englewood, Grammy-winning jazz guitarist, singer and songwriter

Sarah Dash, Trenton, singer and co-founder of Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles

Mary Chapin Carpenter, Princeton, country music singer


Dorothea Lange, Hoboken, documentary photographer

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Englewood, author and aviator


Louise Scott, Newark’s first Black female millionaire who started a beauty empire and founded a beauty school

Sara Spencer Washington, Atlantic City, one of New Jersey’s first Black millionaires and founder of Apex News and Hair company, including beauty schools and door-to-door sales

Paul Volcker, Teaneck, 12th chair of the Federal Reserve

Madeline McWhinney Dale, Middletown, first female officer/vice president of the Federal Reserve


Monte Irvin, Orange, outfielder in the Negro leagues and major leagues who played with the Newark Eagles, New York Giants and Chicago Cubs

Val Ackerman, Pennington, first president of the Women’s National Basketball Association and the current commissioner of the Big East Conference


Margaret Bancroft, Haddonfield, special education pioneer, founder of the Haddonfield/Bancroft Training School

Alexander Hamilton, Elizabeth, founding father and first secretary of the treasury

David Mixner, Elmer, political activist and author

William Paterson, South Branch, signer of the Constitution, associate justice of the Supreme Court and second governor of New Jersey

Gustave Perna, Rockaway, U.S. Army four-star general/COO of the federal COVID-19 response

Antonin Scalia, Trenton, associate justice of the Supreme Court from 1986 until his death in 2016

Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting with a subscription.

Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at and followed at @AmyKup on Twitter.

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