The world of Funk and R&B was taken aback Sunday night, as word got out that one of music’s most beloved daughters took flight. The Motown Alumni Association (MAA) released a statement that singer TEENA MARIE passed on at age 54.
Journalist Roland Martin cited Marie’s manager, Mike Gardner in a report, but it was Philadelphia radio station WDAS, that reported it first on December 26th; Chicago radio station V103 followed shortly after. Born Marie Christine Brockert on March 2, 1956, after graduating high school and briefly attending Santa Monica College, she signed with Motown Records. Teena rose to prominence in the late 70s and 80s, teaming up with funk legend, the late Rick James. The two of them forged a musical, as well as a personal relationship, throughout the years of their association.
Teena Marie’s first album, “Wild and Peaceful,” with James as a producer and the chief songwriter — and his Stone City Band backing her up — was released on Motown’s Gordy imprint in 1979. “I’m Just a Sucker for Your Love,” her duet with James from that album, went to No. 8 on the Billboard R&B singles chart. Marie released 13 studio albums, six of which went platinum on the US R&B chart. Marie’s biggest solo hit came in 1984 with her single “Lovergirl,” which peaked at number-four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She’s also noted for her second duet with Rick titled “Fire and Desire” (Listen to her talk about the making of that tune via an interview posted 11/22). Although Teena may not have had a run of number-one hits, friends and fans of the soul singer love her songs “I Need Your Lovin’,” “Portuguese Love,” “Casanova Brown,” “Ooo La La La,” “Square Biz,” and “Behind The Groove.” For many of her fellow musicians, Teena Marie’s biggest accomplishment was made offstage. Herlawsuit against Motown in the early 1980s, for nonpayment of royalties, resulted in a clarification of California law — known in the music industry as the Brockert Initiative or the Teena Marie Law — that made it much more difficult for record companies to keep an act under an exclusive contract. After leaving Motown, she signed with Epic and reached her commercial peak.
Although Teena Marie’s race was purposely hidden from the public at the very beginning of her career, she was always forthright about the black influences in her music. Marie believed that the content of the music mattered more than the singer’s color. “Over all my race hasn’t been a problem,” she once said. “I’m a black artist with white skin. At the end of the day you have to sing what’s in your own soul.”
The MAA released an update after initial reports, saying: It appears that she was having a birthday party for her 20 year old daughter in Pasadina, California and was feeling bad and decided to take a nap. She appeared to have died of a massive seizure. According to TMZ: Teena suffered a grand mal seizure a month ago. Close family friends say she suffered other seizures, but the grand mal shook her up badly. She supposedly broke two ribs after falling during the seizure. The L.A. County Coroner’s Office found diazepam — an antiseizure drug — at Teena’s home, but friends say she had stopped taking the medicine because of side effects and began taking herbal remedies instead.
Friends say on Saturday night someone slept in the same room with Teena and left in the morning. Teena was talking with her bodyguard at around 11:30 AM. She went back to bed in the early afternoon — no one was with her when she slept. Teena’s daughter checked in with her at around 1 PM and Teena was fine. But at around 3 PM, Teena’s daughter checked in with her again, and found her unresponsive. The Associated Press reported that the authorities said she appeared to have died of natural causes. However, a seizure can be considered “natural causes.” Visit Motown Alumni Association at: http://motownalumniassociation.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network for updates as they become available
Check out this message from Lenny Kravitz in memory of the Ivory Queen of FUNK
In a mournful Celebratory FUNK