Teena Marie was an American singer, songwriter and producer. She died yesterday of what appears to be natural causes at age 54. An Icon of the early 80′s, she broke racial stereotypes and opened doors for all artists to be more independent by taking her label to court. The battle resulted in the Brockert Initiative making it illegal for a record company to keep an artist under contract without releasing new material.
A White man or women in the R & B world was unusual when she hit the scene in 1979 with her smash hit I’m a Sucker for Your Love. Other than Harry Wayne Casey founder of KC and the Sunshine Band whose popularity was waning by 79, I cannot think of another White R & B singer at that time. Afraid that Black audiences would not want to listen to a White singer, her picture was not on the sleeve or cover of her LP. Skeptics were proven wrong when she performed on Soul Train. I remember my friends and I were memorized by her pure Funk and her dynamic voice. The fact that she was White only added to her mystique. We saw her in concert in Fayetteville, NC performing with Rick James her mentor.
Teena was the female voice of Funk. Behind the Groove and Square Biz are two Funky songs that will make you “shake your body.” One of my all-time favorite tunes is Lovergirl and Fire and Desire is a love song classic.
I am immensely saddened by the death of this dynamic, talented and special woman. We have lost a great voice and a person who dared to cross the stereotypes of race helping to change how we see ourselves and how we relate to people around us. The world is a better place because of Lady T.
Teena Marie, Mary Christine Brockert, Lady T….you brought so much joy to the world. Rest in Peace.
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