Heartbroken… RIP Lady T, Teena Marie

Last year, I had the honor of meeting Teena Marie at a signing in Inglewood (Los Angeles). At first, I was sure about going because it was very last-minute and I knew the line was going to be crazy. I decided to go anyways because I just never knew when I was going to have the opportunity to meet her again. It proved to be the first and only time I would ever meet her.

For those who don’t know, Teena Marie (Marie Christine Brockert) was a R&B legend. Discovered and mentored by the late and great Rick James, Teena Marie was a pioneer. She was one of the first women to write and produce her own music as well as others. Her music has been sampled by Missy Elliott, The Fugees and countless others.

Back to my meeting with Lady T. I went up to her and asked for a picture. I was so nervous and star-struck, I was actually stammering and my voice shrunk to barely above a whisper. She happily obliged and put her arms around me. I’ll never forget what she said, ‘Of course, I will, baby. Come here.’ Below is a pic of us together.

I’m truly heartbroken and in too much shock to even cry. I imagine the tears will come later. But for now, let’s celebrate Lady Tee.  Below are a few pictures and some facts.

Despite their chemistry on such tracks as 'I'm Just a Sucka For Your Love' and 'Fire and Desire,' things weren't always so great between Teena Marie and her mentor-lover, Rick James. Teena had an off-on love affair with James for the earlier parts of her career. She once said in an interview, 'I wasn't concerned that I was his number one. I was worried about there being a number two, a number three, and a number four.'

In 1985, Teena released the single, "Lovergirl" for more mainstream exposure. She capitalized on her new audience by releasing a more rock-infused album, Emerald City, in 1988. Not only was the album was a critical and mainstream failure but Marie also alienated her hardcore R&B-Soul audience. She would soon revert back to her R&B roots shortly after that album.

Teena Marie was responsible for the 'Brockert Initiative' a law named after her that prevents record companies from holding artists to their contracts without letting them record new material. The law came to light when Marie wanted to leave Motown but they would not let her. She filed a suit and won. She later joined other labels such as Epic, Cash Money Records and her final label, the famous Stax Records.

 

 

Teena's daughter, Alia Rose, is also pursuing a singing career. She goes by the moniker, Rose Le Beau, and appeared on Teena's last studio album, Congo Square in a duet with her mother.

 

4 thoughts on “Heartbroken… RIP Lady T, Teena Marie

  1. Chantale Reve says:

    Niiiiice! No doubt when you met Teena Marie, you encountered genius. I’m so glad, we all are, that you didn’t turn around in the car and go home or somewhere else! Your happiness is written all over your face, and Teena’s gratitude to a true fan is written all over hers. From what I can recall of that cable TV interview, Teena seemed enthusiastic about the release of CONGO SQUARE.

    You sure wrote a touching tribute to and excellent article on the late great Lady T. I loved the photo gallery, especially the shot of you with her. You captured Teena Marie’s warmhearted authenticity (not with fools, but with fans) in addressing you with “baby.” When I read that quote, immediately it evoked Lady T’s whispery spoken-word intro to “Just Us Two” (an underrated song from 1991).

    In the extended version of “Just Us Two,” as a hip hop groove starts percolating interlaced with the intro to the Leon Ware-Marvin Gaye song “I Want You,” Teena says in perfect rhythm: “Hey, baby … Whatchufeellike doin’ … Just me … Just you … JUST-US-TWO.” I defy anyone with a flexible booty not to shake a lil glute when the intoxicating rhythms get going from the jump, with Lady T doing her trademark “Ooh-wee, ooh-wee, ooh-wee, ooh-ooh, baby — Hey-ey-ey-y-y-y, hey!” That song got so little play, even on R&B radio airwaves, but it still remains one of the best displays of Teena’s mature yet still lilting voice bathed in a lush groove.

    AND, thanks for mentioning reminding us (and informing the under-30 portion of your readership) that “Lovergirl” — as hot as that song was in the ’80s — was the start of Lady T’s crossover appeal. But she sure came back across the tracks, so to speak, to recapture her old-school audience and capture the interest of Gen X. Long before there was Robin Thicke (and, let’s get it straight: I love his music and think he’s hellasexy [sorry, Paula]) — that is, a White singer-songwriter starting out as an R&B tour de force — there was Teena Marie. Beloved Lady T.

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