As an accomplished singer, songwriter, producer, actress, author and musician, Nona Hendryx has seen much success from her music all the way to the red carpet. She is most known for her solo vocal career, being a former member of the trio Labelle (along with Sarah Dash and Patricia Holte) and for being a distant cousin of the legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
Born in Trenton, New Jersey on October 9, 1944, Hendryx would go on to meet Sarah Dash, Patricia Holte and Cindy Birdsong to create the group known as Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. Her voice within the group differed tremendously from the other women she performed with. Hendryx’s voice was a husky alto allowing her to carry a much more diverse tune than that of the other three women. The group would eventually lose Cindy Birdsong as a member, and so it become the trio known as Labelle in 1971.
In 1977 after she split-up from Labelle, Hendryx began her solo career to which she released her first album containing a fusion of soul and hard rock. This album contained tracks such as “Winning” (which was later recorded by Santana) and “Leaving Here Today.” Hendryx then went on to tour with the Talking Heads for whom she provided background vocals. She appeared at Heatwave festival in 1980, and contributed to Dusty Springfield’s 1978 album “It Begins Again.”
Her solo career spanned eight studio albums and not only allowed her to engage with the artists mentioned above, but also artists such as Prince, Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson, Cameo and Bono. These collaborations resulted in numerous top ten hits and even a Grammy nomination for Rock This House with The Rolling Stones to which Keith Richards was on guitar. Hendryx was also inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame in 1999.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, Hendryx, as her website describes, “remains the Queen of Transformation; writing music for theatre, film, and producing and collaborating in the works of a new generation of artists as well as cowriting songs and appearing on the Terry Lyne Carrington Grammy Award winning Mosaic Project with Esperanza Spalding.”
An activist and an outspoken supporter for women’s rights as well as political, social and criminal justice, Hendryx has helped to raise money and spread awareness of HIV/AIDS from its early stages and continues to do so in the present day.