Who is NONA HENDRYX?
“Life isn’t what it seems nor is it otherwise”
Photo credit © Hollis King
In the spirit of two fisted political singer songwriters such as, Nina Simone, and Joni Mitchell, Nona Hendryx tackles social issues, love and politics with a smoky vocal tessitura somewhere between funk and the end of the stratosphere. Hendryx’s legendary career spans six decades of sound and style evolution. Fans know her as a founding member of the girl group, Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles (with Sarah Dash, Cindy Birdsong and Patti LaBelle) known as “the Sweethearts of the Apollo Theatre” and inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame in 1999. In the 70s, the group morphed into the Rock & Funk Glam Diva's 'Labelle' with the #1 record, Lady Marmalade. Nona Hendryx emerged as the chief songwriter of the group’s socially conscious and illuminating message songs. If Labelle fans grieved the end of Labelle, Nona Hendryx fans welcomed a new one as the revolutionary art-rock, new-wave goddess embarked upon her own impressive Solo career, which spanned eight studio albums and engaged her with an impressive lineup of collaborators (Prince, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, Bono and Cameo), resulting in top ten hits and a Grammy nomination (Rock This Houses with The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards on guitar).
Fast forwarding into the 20th and 21st century’s without losing a note (or gaining a pound) Nona Hendryx remains the Queen of Transformation; writing music for theatre (the Roundabout’s BLUE, written and directed by Charles R. Wright and starring Phylicia Rashad), film (the Lee Daniels 2010 Oscar-nominated Precious),and producing and collaborating in the works of a new generation of artists as well as cowriting songs and appearing on the Terri Lyne Carrington Grammy Award winning, Mosaic Project with Esperanza Spalding, Cassandra Wilson, Diane Reeves and Sheila E.). An activist and vocal supporter for women’s rights, social, political and criminal justice. Helping to raise funds and awareness of HIV/AIDS from the outbreak of the epidemic and still involved today. Dreaming of being an educator because of her English Teacher and mentor Mrs. Lottie Dinkins, Nona worked with education organizations supporting women in prison, a school in Chicago founded by Monica Haslip, Little Black Pearl, taught Stage Craft at The Clive Davis Recording Academy and founded in 2016 her own Non Profit, SisterSMATR.org to bridge the gap in Science, Math, Art, Technology and Robotics for young women of color.
Nona added Ambassador for Artistry in Music at Berklee College of Music in Boston to her career. Working across three departments; Music Ensemble, Music Theater and Berklee’s Electronic Production and Design Department with the guidance of the EPD Chair Michael Bierylo. Nona recently made her directorial debut, collaborating with Berklee’s Dr. Richard Boulanger and Students, the poet Soul Flower and Hank Shocklee (Public Enemy music producer) to create a multi disciplined performance ‘A Rose Out Of Concrete’ with the merged schools, Berklee College and Boston Conservatory including the Conservatory’s Hip Hop Dance students choreographed by the departments Hip Hop dance professor, Duane Holland.
Hendryx presented multimedia performances at MoogFest and MASS MOCA. Having made yet another transformation into a multimedia ‘CyberDiva’, Hendryx still writes music across genres with politically and socially relevant lyrics wrapped in neo-funk grooves, other worldly and soulful vocals, and art-rock charged rhythms. Performing in and writing a song ‘Grace’ (Trust and Believe) for Carrie Mae Weems' Grace Notes marks the beginning of another artistic collaboration. Not slowing down, 2018 will be an even busier year for Nona with the honor of being Joe’s Pub’s first Vanguard Residency Artist for and curating a series of shows over the twelve months being January 2018 along with a commission to create new multimedia work inspired by Carrie Mae Weems ‘Kitchen Table and Ulysses Dove’s ‘Urban Folk Dance’, Exploring another form of communication Nona has created a SiriusXM Radio show ‘The Nexus with Nona Hendryx’ discussing Music, Art and Technology, Nona’s three passions.