R.I.P Teena Marie
By Ben Wener
The Orange County Register
Teena Marie, Grammy-nominated R&B performer and perennial L.A. concert favorite, died in her sleep Sunday at her California home. She was 54.
According to her publicist, Lynn Jeter, a month ago the singer-songwriter-producer reportedly suffered a grand mal seizure, a neurological event marked by a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. “Luckily, someone was there,” Jeter told CNN. “The ambulance took her to the hospital, and on the way she had another seizure.” However, she was believed to be feeling better and preparing for a show this week in Atlanta when her daughter, Alia Rose (aka singer Rose Le Beau), found her earlier Sunday.
As was something of a tradition — for her to play Southern California near or on Valentine’s Day — Marie was slated to appear Feb. 12 at Nokia Theatre with Keith Sweat and the Whispers. That show has been canceled; refunds are available at point of purchase.
Born Mary Christine Brockert in Santa Monica, Calif., Marie initially shot to stardom as a protege of funk legend Rick James, who wrote all but two of the six songs on her 1979 debut for Motown Records, “Wild and Peaceful.” Berry Gordy, suspecting soul audiences at the time might reject the budding ingenue if they knew she was white, chose not to include a picture of her on the cover.
Yet Marie, also known to fans as Lady T (after her 1980 album of the same name), was among the first non-African American artists to routinely chart high on the R&B charts, something that has become more common in this era of Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke. Indeed, Marie’s synthed-up sound served a crucial role in the development of modern urban-soul.
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