She was still famous back then. It took me a while to associate the guest vocals she does now on pop songs to the the original stuff she did back in the day. By far the most impressive was "Taken For Granted" but the whole Healing is Difficult LP was outstanding.
Just the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.