The 5th Dimension still shining bright with Palace Theatre show
The 5th Dimension was as popular a symbol of the late 1960s and early ‘70s as peace signs and “Make Love, Not War” posters.
If the vocal group’s name doesn’t ring a bell, the parade of timeless hit records surely will. Who doesn’t remember singing and dancing to the group’s well-orchestrated renditions of “Up, Up and Away,” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Last Night I Didn’t Get to Sleep,” “Stoned Soul Picnic” and “Never My Love”?
Founding and original member Florence LaRue says their music was branded as “champagne soul” back in the day. And, thanks to her enthusiasm and dedication to keeping the group’s hits going strong at 77 years young, the “champagne” is still flowing.
LaRue and the other current members of The 5th Dimension — Patrice Morris, Floyd Smith, Sidney Jacobs and Leonard Tucker — will bring their songbook and harmonies to The Palace Theatre, Greensburg, for a performance at 3 p.m. April 28.
With more than 50 years of performing under her belt, LaRue says she has so many good memories of people she’s met and places she’s been as a member of the vocal group.
Among her most memorable times traveling with The 5th Dimension include a tour of England with Frank Sinatra, and a state department-sponsored tour of eastern Europe when it was still under Communist control.
“I got to know Frank very well,” she said.
That particular European tour didn’t go as well — and was a little frightening, as she recalls.
“At the end of the show, the audience rushed the stage. They wanted to touch us; we were their connection to the free world,” she said. “It showed me how powerful music is – and how it can unite people of different ages and religions.”
Although LaRue makes her home in California, she says many of The 5th Dimension’s touring engagements are on the east coast of the U.S. and in Canada. She especially enjoys trips back to New Jersey, where she has a chance to visit with friends in Atlantic City. LaRue grew up in Glenside, Montgomery County, near Philadelphia.
Additional solo work
Besides her performances with the group, LaRue also does her own separate shows as a solo artist, as well as speaking at churches and for groups. She’s also working on writing a book on mental, physical and spiritual health, with a working title of “Let Your Light Shine.”
“Not many people know I have a bachelor’s degree in education,” she says. “The premise of the book is to be the best you can be.”
She especially enjoys speaking to students and seniors, explaining that “a lot of people think when they hit 40, their lives are over. It’s really just a new season.”
LaRue has no plans to slow down or quit singing, “as long as the Lord tells me to keep going,” she says. “I really enjoy what I’m doing.”
Her spiritual life is very important to her and she says The 5th Dimension has been blessed to have so many musical successes, including 14 gold records, six platinum records, six Grammy Awards and numerous other awards.
“Maybe we should change one of our song titles to “Let the SON Shine In,” she suggests.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.