Teena Marie Has Died

Posted: December 27, 2010 in Music Business
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Grammy Award-nominated singer–songwriter–producer, Teena Marie has died. Nicknamed Lady Tee, (sometimes spelled Lady T), was a protégée of late funk legend Rick James, and was notable as one of the few successful white performers of R&B. She played rhythm guitar, keyboards and congas. She also wrote, produced, sang and arranged virtually all of her songs since her 1980 release Irons in the Fire. She said it was her favorite album. She had a daughter, Alia Rose, who, as of 2009, sang under the name Rose Le Beau. Marie died on Sunday, December 26, 2010, at home, of natural cause as announced by her manager, Mike Gardner. She was 54.

Born Mary Christine Brockert in Santa Monica, California, the 54-year-old artist famously paired with late funk legend Rick James and was nominated four times for a Grammy Award, according to her official website.

Marie was found dead by her daughter after apparently dying in her sleep, manager Mike Gardner said.

“Teena was a black voice trapped in a white body,” said Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One, a broadcasting company that targets African-American and urban listeners. “I would always tell her that she was one of the greatest vocalists of our time.”

Among her songs were “Lovergirl,” “Portuguese Love,” “Ooo La La La,” and “I’m a Sucker for Your Love.”

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.

Marie sang under various record labels, including Motown, Epic, Stax Records and Cash Money Classics, since bursting on the scene as a 19-year-old, according to her website. Her last studio album, Congo Square, featured several collaborations.

“The enduring influence of Teena’s inspirational, trailblazing career, could only have been made possible through her brilliant song-writing, showmanship and high energy passion which laid the ground work for the future generations of R&B, hip-hop, and soul,” said Gene Rumsey, chief label officer with Concord Music Group. “We feel extremely fortunate to have worked with a visionary who changed music in indelible ways.”

Eddie Levert, founder of the vocal group The O’Jays, praised Marie as both a singer and mother.

“There are a lot of black people who swore by her and believed in her, as far as her music was concerned,” he said. “She was a good mom, and to me, that is saying a lot.”

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