Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Payin' Homage

Who doesn't love Teena Marie? The love affair began back in '79 with her Rick James produced debut Wild and Peaceful. In the beginning we all assumed Teena was a black girl singing for Motown, we were all shocked when we found out she was a white girl from California. No blue-eyed soul singer could sing a song like Teena Marie. Black or white, Teena Marie is one of music's greatest voices. Teena Marie (born Mary Christine Brockert) grew up in the West Los Angeles neighborhood of Oakwood, nicknamed 'Venice Harlem.' In hopes of scoring a recording contract with Motown, Mary changed her name to Teena Marie. 'Lady T' would eventually join the Motown family in '76 as a backup singer. Within a short period of time, she hooked up with Rick James and Wild and Peaceful was born. Teena hit the charts with the Rick James duet "I'm Just A Sucker For Your Love" and the beautiful "Deja Vu (I've Been Here Before)." The singer/songwriter/musician/producer went on to produce two hit albums, Lady T and Irons In The Fire. 1981's It Must Be Magic was her best selling album on Motown and produced the mega hit "Square Biz" and "Portuguese Love." That same year Rick James and Teena Marie made magic with the duet "Fire and Desire", a song considered to be the greatest duet in the history of R&B. Teena would eventually leave Motown and sign to Epic Records. Upon her departure from Motown, Teena Marie sued the label. As a result, The Brockert Initiative, better known as 'The Teena Marie Law', was passed, it set a precedent for artists seeking control of the careers by limiting the length of recording contracts.

The second phase of her career at Epic included the release of albums Robbery, Starchild, Emerald City, Naked To The World, and Ivory and hit songs "Fix It," "Lovergirl," "Out On A Limb," "Ooo La La La" and "If I Were A Bell." Upon taking a 10 year hiatus from the music biz, Teena released Passion Play, on her own independent label. The self proclaimed 'Queen of Ivory Soul' made a comeback in 2004 on the hip hop label Cash Money Records with the release La Dona, the highest charting album of her career. "Still In Love" and a duet with the late Gerald Levert, "A Rose By Any Other Name" proved to be hit songs. "Still In Love" garnered Teena a 2005 Grammy nomination for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance. In 2006, Teena Marie released Sapphire, she scored a hit with "Ooh Wee." Teena Marie recorded with her musical idol Smokey Robinson on the tracks "God Has Created" and "Cruise Control." Teena has since parted ways with Cash Money and rumor has it she is working a on new release described as "personal and spiritual."