Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reflecting on R&B; Icon Teena Marie

Photo: CNN

Literally two hours ago I was informed of the sad, sad news....legendary, award-winning, singer, producer, and song-writer, Teena Marie has died. Currently, the news is sparse. According to CNN she was found dead this morning in her home here in California. Some reports state she was found by her daughter, who also performed with her.

To the family, friends, and fans, this is a dark, sad day. I too am a fan and over the years I got to tell her so in person a few times at industry events. Shorter than my 5'2 ft frame, Teena always seemed "huge" to me. She could stand tall amid the crowd because she survived much and still came out a winner in this sometime cruel game of show. Her music and career touched and influenced many in the music business.

I love her lyrics which to me read like true poetry without the harmonies. I love too her passionate vocals and the various styles of music she infused in her songs--jazz, classical, gospel, hip hop. Even the rap she did in "Square Biz" is still "hot" some 30 years later 'cause not many artists today could pull it off so effortlessly. She defined "musician" to me in every sense of the word. Ironically, I never got to see her in concert and sadly now I never will.

I also loved how Teena Marie responded to fans. I was really surprised how receptive and responsive she was on the social network, Twitter. She seemed to really have fun with it. Below is one of many tweets between us, which is also why it's so hard to believe she's died. These tweets were in November.

Lastly, if you're 30 something or older, and a lover of R&B music like me, you've got at least one Teena Marie classic within reach:

  • "Square Biz"
  • "I Need Your Loving"
  • "Out on A Limb"
  • "Casanova Brown"
  • "Ooh La La La"
  • "Fire and Desire"
  • "Portuguese Love"
  • "Ooh Wee"...
..and the list goes on and on. Most don't even know she set a legal precedent protecting artist's rights thanks to the "Teena Marie Bill." Babies were made to her music; perms sweated out on dance floors; love was renewed or redefined. Miss Teena you'll definitely be missed! Rest In Peace! "I'm still digging you baby!". Groove with me as I immerse myself in Teena Marie music for the night. This one of my FAVORITES, "Dear Mr. Gaye."


Rwriteur said...

This is probably a random detail, but she's one of about four greats to have passed at the tender age of 54. Marie, along with Luther Van Dross, Gregory Hines and Nell Carter, left too soon.

I just remember her music transporting me to places both warm and fun.

She was one of the few women composers and musicians to do it all.

And she made it look easy.

She will be missed. said...

Wow! They all died at 54? That's interesting. And you're right she was one of the few female artist who from the start seemed to have the total music package. I'm still in awe of her lyrical talents. That's one of the many things missing in music today, the lyrical depth of a Teena Marie.

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