Oh dear…The holiday season is winding down with a major case of The Sads!
The R&B World is mourning the loss of blue-eyed soul songstress Teena Marie.
The singer was found dead in her Pasadena home on Sunday. She was 54.
The soprano songbird burst onto the recording scene after being discovered by fellow music legend Rick James in the late ’70s. Soon Teena found herself the darling of Motown Records, where she would churn out hits like “Square Biz,” “Lovergirl,” “I Need Your Lovin,’” “Deja Vu (I’ve Been Here Before),” “Casanova Brown,” “Portuguese Love.” The charttoppers helped Marie earn the moniker “The Ivory Queen of Soul.”
Marie was born as Mary Christine Brockert in Santa Monica, California. She was first signed to the legendary Motown label back in 1979 at age 19, working with James, with whom she would have long, turbulent but musically magical relationship. The cover of her breakout album, Wild and Peaceful, did not feature her image because Motown feared backlash by audiences if they found out the songstress with the dynamic voice was White.
“I would always tell her that she was one of the greatest vocalists of our time,” says Cathy Hughes, the founder of Radio One, a broadcast company catering to urban music listeners. “Teena was a Black voice trapped in a White body.”
Teena’s body was discovered by her teenage daughter, who tried unsuccessfully to rouse her for her sleep at approximately 1 PM PST Sunday afternoon. While no cause of death has been released, the singer’s publicist Lynn Jeter said that Teena suffered a grand mal seizure — a neurological event, marked by loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions.
“Luckily, someone was there,” Jeter told CNN of the seizure. “The ambulance took her to the hospital, and on the way she had another seizure.”
Jeter said that she had a “great” conversation on Saturday with the singer, who told her that she was excited about heading to Atlanta to perform this week (at the FOX Theater) — in what would have been her first performance since the seizure. Teena’s manager Mike Gardner believes the songstress likely died in her sleep.
Marie had begun to tour again in recent years after overcoming an addiction to prescription drugs about a decade ago.
In Teena’s honor, we leave you with one of the funkiest dance tracks known to mankind!