Very sad news to report over the holiday. R&B singer Teena Marie has passed away at the age of 54, according to several news reports and confirmed by CNN. Chicago radio station V103 and Philadelphia radio station WDAS were among the first to break the news on Twitter.
The legendary singer apparently died in her sleep and her body was discovered by her daughter, CNN reports.
"While no cause of death has been released, the singer's publicist Lynn Jeter said that Marie suffered a grand mal seizure—a neurological event, marked by loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions, according to the Mayo Clinic—a month ago. 'Luckily, someone was there,' Jeter said of that seizure. "The ambulance took her to the hospital, and on the way she had another seizure." The publicist said that she had a 'great' conversation on Saturday with Marie, who told her that she was excited about heading to Atlanta to perform this week -- in what would have been her first performance since the seizure."
Born Marie Christine Brockert in 1956, Teena Marie shot to fame in the late 1970s and 1980s as the protegée of late funk legend Rick James. When she was first signed to Motown Records in 1976 and debuted on urban radio, Teena Marie was one of the very few successful white performers of R&B—and was often mistaken for being Black. The Grammy Award-nominated singer–songwriter–producer released 13 studio albums. Six of the albums went platinum on the US R&B chart.
Watch and listen to Teena Marie AFTER THE JUMP ...
Teena Marie's work in the late 1970s and early 1980s has arguably become iconic in the classic R&B cannon. Marie's biggest hit came in 1984 with 'Lovergirl,' which peaked at Number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Marie was one of the first and only artists of her time to rap on one of her singles—"Square Biz" from the 1981 Motown release of It Must Be Magic. Other notable tracks included "Portuguese Love", "It Must be Magic" and the album only track "Yes Indeed". All of these songs became huge anthems across the Black LGBT community—and to this day are still frequently performed in drag clubs.
In 1980, Marie released her third LP, Irons in The Fire. She wrote and produced the entire project, performed all the horn and rhythm arrangements, and, all backing vocals. "I Need Your Lovin'" brought Teena her first top 40 hit. That same year, Teena Marie and Rick James released the now leendary duet "Fire and Desire." The duo would later perform the single at the 2004 BET Awards, their last television together as Rick James died later that year.
Teena Marie also had a major impact on entertainment law.
"Upon discovering she had been underpaid royalties for the four albums she recorded for Motown, Teena Marie decided to leave the label and later sued it for having restricted her artistic control. A law was passed as a result, The Brockert Initiative, popularly known as "The Teena Marie Law", which set a precedent for artists seeking control of their careers by limiting the length of recording contracts."
So many memories. Remember buying the 45 of "Square Biz" with money from mowing lawns. And remember hearing "Casanova Brown" for the very first time and crying. It still makes me tear to this day. Rest in Peace, Lady T. Watch and listen to the magic AFTER THE JUMP ...
And my favorite, "Cassanova Brown."