Soul’s Treasured Lady T: Remembering Teena Marie

It must be magic…

For soul music lovers, Teena Marie was a sweet treasure. With the exception of R&B stations like WBLS and Kiss FM, we didn’t look to radio to find her. Lady T was on the record shelf, next to the turntables, the soundtrack for a two step with the family, and some warm memories of the good old days.

Along with a small handful of friends, I’m probably on the younger side of her fanbase. Her most successful hits like “Square Biz” predate me. Thankfully my parents raised me on soul music, and I was introduced to her music at an early age. While my classmates were listening to Michael Jackson, they sprinkled Teena Marie, Shalamar, and Chaka Khan into my diet. “Behind The Groove” and “Lovergirl” were regulars on my uncle’s Saturday night playlists on the turntables.

Teena Marie was a quintessential example of staying true to authenticity. A self proclaimed “vanilla child,” soul audiences thought she was anything but when her music hit radio stations. Motown CEO Berry Gordy was hesitant to put her image on the cover of her debut album, Wild and Peaceful. But her voice won over fans, and the only reference to her race ever since was simply, “That white girl can sing!”

A protege of the late Rick James, Teena joined him on the duet “Fire And Desire.” The two also shared a romance. With steamy duets like “Happy,” love was inevitable. She also produced and arranged her own songs with that irresistible hardhitting bassline of the late 70s and early 80s. She played instruments, danced, and rapped in her stage show: I’ve heard a boatload of others ladies’ raps, but they ain’t got nothin’ on me. I’m less than five foot one, a hundred pounds of fun, I like sophisticated funk…

Teena Marie recently released new material and was back on tour. She died at her home at 54, as a result of a seizure.

For more on Teena Marie’s extraordinary life, tune into Unsung on TV One tomorrow at 9pm.

Prayers and thoughts are with her daughter Alia Rose, and all of her family and friends.

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2 responses to “Soul’s Treasured Lady T: Remembering Teena Marie

  1. Beautiful article…

    Tender was the kiss when you held me captive in your warm embrace…my lips begin to burn and my heart beats faster than the normal pace…oh I try to resist that familiar smile that melts me just like wax…(lyrics)…when love made sense and you weren’t afraid to tell a person/show them how you felt. Like Teena said her Unsung interview, “All music was good back then…now you either have corny or too foul”…

    So many beautiful stories I have read here and beautiful memories…I have my own from my mom’s album collection and the first album Wild and Peaceful, Sucka for your love…to Lady T, Behind the Groove.. It must be Magic…Square Biz, Yes Indeed, Portuguese Love, Deja Vu (I’ve Been Here Before)…to her Irons in the Fire Album..I Need Your Lovin, Young Love, Irons in the Fire…..soo many memories…thank you Mom for introducing me to soul and thank you Teena for giving me soul and love…

    RIP Teena Marie

  2. Excellent Tribute Ms. J. Love your resposne Rema. My sister is gone but her spirit will not be forgotten. Soul Music comes from deep down inside an artist’s being. Lady T put her infinite mark on Soul Music.

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