Born in Santa Monica, California, Mary Christine Brockert (aka Teena Marie) grew up in the predominately African American community of Oakland, California, where she was exposed to the music of Motown. In fact, in 1976, Marie signed with Motown Records where she worked with a number of different producers. She came to the attention of Rick James and eventually recorded “Wild and Peaceful.” The album gave Marie her first R&B hit entitled “I’m Just a Sucker for Your Love.” A song she sang as a duet with Rick James, with whom she had a sometimes turbulent romantic relationship.
In fact, so soulful was Teena’s voice that until she appeared with James on the television program Soul Train most fans and radio jocks assumed Teena was African American. Although Teena’s ethnicity was a mixed bag of Portuguese, Italian, Irish and Native American, Teena is once quoted as saying: “Overall my race hasn’t been a problem. I’m a black artist with white skin. At the end of the day, you have to sing what’s in your own soul.”.. Read more
Also known as Lady T and the Ivory Queen of Soul, Marie released an album entitled “Lady T.” She began to write songs and in 1980, released “Irons in the Fire” which she also produced. Her single: “I Need Your Lovin” made it to the top 40. A protégée of Rick James, Marie sang a duet “Fire and Desire,” with James during the 2004 BET Awards which proved to be their last TV engagement together. Rick James died later that year of what the coroner claimed was a heart attack that might have been brought on by his abuse of drugs. It was determined there were 9 different drugs found in the singer/producer’s system when an autopsy was performed.
Stax Records commented: “The Concord Music Group family and millions of fans around the world lost a great artist and friend on Sunday when soul music icon Teena Marie died at the age of 54. An internationally renowned singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and performer, Teena Marie, released her thirteenth and final album, CONGO SQUARE on June 9, 2009, for legendary soul music label Stax Records. The critically acclaimed collection was a personal milestone for the iconic, Grammy nominated soul music star and Rhythm & Blues Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient as it marked her 30th year in the industry she loved. Teena Marie left a sensational musical legacy. Making her debut in 1979, her sublime musical eclecticism took soul music in new directions, swiftly earning her a hallowed and singular place in the hearts of R&B purists. Throughout her groundbreaking accomplishments, Teena remained humble, unpretentious and refreshingly down-to-earth. Her talent was matched only by her kindness of spirit. She collaborated with musical giants throughout her career and they reciprocated with the kind of love and respect that indicated she was truly one of them.
“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,” stated Concord Music Group chief label officer, Gene Rumsey. “We feel extremely fortunate to have worked with a visionary who changed music in indelible ways. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family, friends and of course, millions of fans around the world.”
By Deardra Shuler for Soulinterviews.com 2010
01 – Teena Marie – I”m A Sucker For Your Love (Wild And Peaceful, 1979)
02 – Teena Marie – My Dear Mr Gaye (Starchild, 1984)
03 – Teena Marie – Can”t Last A Day (feat Faith Evans) (Congo Square, 2009)
04 – Teena Marie – Lover”s Lane (feat. Howard Hewett) (Congo Square, 2009)
Background music during the interview:
Teena Marie – Fix It (12 inch version), Faye Marshall – Goin” Home, Teena Marie – Congo Square (feat. George Duke), Rick James – Fire And Desire, Teena Marie – Now That I Have You, Teena Marie – It Must Be Magic, Teena Marie – Shadow Boxing, Teena Marie – Ooo La La La, Teena Marie – The Mackin” Game feat MC Lyte And Medusa, Teena Marie – Black Rain, Teena Marie – The Pressure (feat. MC Lyte), Teena Marie – Baby I Love You, Teena Marie – Ms. Coretta