Throwback: Nona Hendryx-Transformation

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Nona Hendryx is a Trenton, New Jersey native who was a member of Labelle through all their incarnations.The group consisted of Sarah Dash, Patti Labelle, Hendryx and for a time Cindy Birdsong. They became famous for their covers of “I Sold My Heart To The Junkman” and “Lady Marmalade.” The group broke-up in 1976 and Hendryx released her first self-titled solo album in 1977. Her back-up work for The Talking Heads lead to an association with Bill Laswell’s experimental funk group Material and they had a club hit with “Busting’ Out” in 1981. Material produced her second solo album, Nona and this is the album that has “Transformation,” “B-Boys,” “Keep It Confidential” and the song “Design For Living” that had guest appearances from Valerie Simpson, Tina Weymouth, Laurie Anderson, Nancy Wilson from Heart and Patti Labelle. She wrote songs for a couple of soundtracks in the ’80’s including “Transparent” for “Coming To America,” and “I Sweat (Going Through The Motions)” for “Moving Violations.” The Art of Defense was released in 1984 and she received a Grammy nomination for “Rock This House” co-written with Keith Richards from her 1985 album The Heat. MTV yanked the video for “I Need Love” from their playlist because of the presence of drag queens.“Why Should I Cry” from her 1987 Female Trouble album became her biggest R&B hit. The album also had input from Peter Gabriel and Prince who wrote “Baby Go-Go.” Peter Baumann of Tangerine Dream produced the following Skin Diver album from 1989 which was composed of ambient New Age sounds. Hendryx returned in ’92 with an album of R&B covers with Billy Vera called You Have To Cry Sometime. In the 2000’s she made a guest appearance on “The L Word” where her song “Transformation” was performed by the alternative rock group BETTY. Labelle reunited in 2007 to release the Back To Now album. Hendryx’s work with Labelle and her solo work in various genres has made her one of the most versatile artists. And her work in the ’80’s earned her the title of being an unsung funk pioneer. On July 31, 2012 Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records released Hendryx’s heavily political Mutatis Mutandis.