BLACK MUSIC MONTH SPOTLIGHT: Teena MariePublished by Justin Joseph on Monday, June 25, 2012 at 10:44 am.
Before there was Lisa Stansfield, Mariah Carey, and even Amy Winehouse—there was Teena Marie. The California bred singer and multi-instrumentalist (rhythm guitar, keyboards and congas) developed her musical talents under the tutelage of legendary funk singer Rick James. Marie, born Mary Christine Brockert, was raised on the sounds of Motown Records artists and begin singing at an early age. In 1976. after years of ducking in and out of studios, the young talent was signed to the very same label that inspired her music. Her debut album, “Wild and Peaceful” —released three years after signing in 1979, was a mild success on the charts but yielded the Billboard R&B top ten hit, “I’m Just a Sucker For Your Love” featuring James.
Motown label head, Berry Gordy chose to use a landscape on her first album, instead of a picture of Marie, in a move not to cause black people to dismiss her because she was white. It wasn’t until Marie made her Soul Train debut that everyone saw her for who she really was, the personification of “Ivory Soul.”
Throughout the 80’s and 90’s Marie released a string of albums and R&B gems that were all written, produced, sung and arranged by her. An uncredited musical pioneer, she was one of the first women to rap on a song, 1981’s “Square Biz”.
By the 2000’s, Teena Marie signed with a major hip hop label, Cash Money Records and released “La Dona” and “Sapphire”. “La Dona” went gold and was Teena’s highest-charting album. After separating from Cash Money, Teena Marie released her 13th studio album “Congo Square” in 2009. Sadly that album would mark her last, as Teena Marie passed away at her home in California in 2010. She was 54 years old.
She will forever be remembered for her musical contributions to the world of Soul, Funk and R&B.