Sunday, May 09th

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Lady Day to Lady Tee: The Leading Ladies of Blue-Eyed Soul - Page 3

Teena Marie

Born Mary Christine Brockert in Santa Monica, Calif., in 1956, she’s better known by her stage name Teena Marie or alias Lady Tee or the Ivory Queen of Soul. Marie started singing at an early age and taught herself to play the guitar, bass, and congas.

In the early ’70s her family moved to “Venice Harlem” in West Los Angeles, a predominately Black neighborhood. Marie’s English literature studies in college and love of reading helped her with song writing (she wrote, arranged, and produced the vast majority of her music). At 19 she signed with Motown Records and soon caught the eye of fellow label mate, Rick James who took her under his wing.

Marie’s picture did not appear on her debut album, “Wild and Peaceful,” which caused many to believe she was Black until she performed the duet “I’m Just a Sucker for Your Love” with James on “Soul Train” in 1979. However, she was immediately accepted by the Black community because of her remarkable vocals and down-to-earth demeanor.

Her music ranges from upbeat funk tracks like “Square Biz” to sultry slow jams like “Ohh La La La,” both sampled in the ’90s by hip-hop groups. Throughout her 30-year career she completed 14 albums and worked with everyone from Smokey Robinson and Gerald Levert to Faith Evans and Common.

Aside from her music, Marie will be remembered for the appreciation and respect she always expressed toward Black culture and music. For example, she dedicated songs to Coretta Scott King and Curtis Mayfield and acknowledged Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni as inspiration.

Reminds you of: Chaka Khan
Must listen to track: “Portuguese Love” from the album “It Must Be Magic”