R&B Singer Teena Marie Dies at 54

December 27, 2010

December 26, 2010

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – R&B singer and songwriter
Teena Marie, best known for the hit 1980s singles
“Lovergirl” and “Ooo La La La,” died at her home in
Los Angeles on Sunday, according to news reports.
She was 54.

The cause of death was not known, and a
spokeswoman was not immediately available for
comment. Her friend, percussionist Sheila E, reported
on Twitter that Teena Marie had a history of seizures.

Teena Marie, whose real name was Mary Brockert, was
one of the rare white performers to enjoy crossover
success on America’s black music charts.

A protégée of funk singer Rick James, she signed with
Motown Records in 1975 and released her first album
four years later. That album, which was mostly written
by James, led fans to believe that Teena Marie was
black since it did not feature a picture of her. Her
duet with James on “I’m a Sucker For You” peaked at
No. 8 on Billboard’s Black Singles chart.

“I’ve always been accepted by the black community
and I think that’s a beautiful thing,” Teena Marie told
Jet magazine in 2006.

She released 13 albums up to 2009′s “Conga Square,”
on which she paid tribute to jazz influences, such as
Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday.

Teena Marie’s career had been on the upswing since
2004 when she signed with a New Orleans rap label
and released her first album in a decade. “La Dona”
debuted and peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200,
the first time she had ever cracked the top 20. A song
from the album, “Still in Love,” took her onto the Hot
100 singles chart for the first time since 1988.

Two of her albums, 1981′s “It Must Be Magic” and
1984′s “Starchild,” went gold for U.S. shipments in
excess of 500,000 units each, according to the
Recording Industry Association of America. The latter
album, released after she left Motown in the wake of a
legal battle, spawned the tune “Lovergirl,” which hit
No. 4 on the Hot 100. “Ooo La La La,” meanwhile,
went to No. 1 on the black singles chart in 1988.

Teena Marie is survived by a daughter, Alia Rose.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Paul Simao)


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