Teena Marie on hump day classics


Teena Marie is one of the artists you’re likely to hear more than just a few songs from on THE BEAT.

Today we invite you to check out a great concert from Lady T from 2009 along with great music from her, interviews, videos and more from this amazing talent who passed on Dec. 26, 2010..


Born on March 5, 1956, Mary Christine Brockert would be R&B’s Lovergirl from the minute she caught Rick James’ eye who gave her the name Lady T.

She was known for her distinctive soulful vocals, which caused many listeners to believe she was black. Her success in R&B and soul music, and her loyalty to these genres would earn her the title Ivory Queen of Soul.

An amazing talent, Teena was a skilled guitarist, keyboard player and percussionist who wrote, produced and sang the majority of all her songs since her 1980 album “Irons In The Fire” which featured the hit “I Need Your Lovin’.”

Singing since the age of two, Teena’s first professional gig wasn’t in the music industry but TV. Her parents had taken her to audition and helped her land a role on the Beverly Hillbillies where she was credited as Tina Marie Brockert.

It was when the family moved to Oakwood, known as “Venice Harlem” that she would develop a love for soul and R&B music along with a strong spiritual influence from her future Godmother, the neighborhood matriarch, Berthalynn Jackson.

While in High School, Marie was performing in various plays and dance productions. She began auditioning for various record companies after graduation.

In 1976, Teena (as the lead singer of a band she had assembled, which included long-time friend Mickey Boyce) gained an introduction to Motown Records staff producer Hal Davis (best known for his work with Brenda Holloway and the Jackson 5). That audition led to an audition for a film about orphans that was being developed by Motown. The project was shelved, but label boss Berry Gordy, impressed with her singing but having no need for a musical group, decided to sign her as a solo act. At that time, Motown only had signed two white artists, Rare Earth and Charlene

Teena recorded unreleased material with a number of different producers over the next few years, before being spotted by label mate Rick James, who was immediately impressed with her sound.

At the time, James, already established as a successful recording artist, was on tap to produce for Diana Ross but changed his mind and decided to work with Brockert, instead. The result was her debut album release, Wild and Peaceful. The album was, at one point, due to be credited to “Teena Tryson”, but ultimately was put out under “Teena Marie”, the name by which she would be known throughout her remaining career. It scored Teena Marie her first top-ten R&B hit, “I’m a Sucker for Your Love” (#8 Black Singles Chart), a duet with James. In Color Me Badd fashion, neither the album nor its packaging had her picture on it, and many radio programmers assumed she was black during the earliest months of her career. This myth was disproved when she performed her debut hit with James on Soul Train in 1979, becoming the show’s first white female guest. (She would appear on the show eight more times, more than any other white act.) For a quick history note… Gino Vanelli was the first white artist to appear on the show.

Teena MarieHer second album, Lady T (1980), featured her portrait on the cover, and is also noted for having production from Richard Rudolph (the widower of R&B singer Minnie Riperton who’s daughter is actress Maya Rudolph – my, my, you learn so much when we do these features!).

Teena Marie had asked Berry Gordy to contact Rudolph and secure his input, as Rick James was unavailable, and she felt unprepared to be sole producer of her own material. Rudolph intended for the song he penned, “Now That I Have You”, to be sung by his wife, but it was later given to Teena Marie. Rudolph also co-composed the single “Behind The Groove”, which reached number 21 on the black singles chart and No. 6 on the U.K. singles chart in 1980. The song would also be included on the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the Fever 105 soundtrack. Another notable track, “Too Many Colors”, featured then 7-year-old daughter, Maya who became Teena Marie’s goddaughter.

Also in 1980, Teena Marie released her third LP, Irons in the Fire, for which she handled all writing and production herself, including the horn and rhythm arrangements of her band, and all backing vocals, achievements considered rare at the time for a female artist.[10] The single “I Need Your Lovin'” (#37 Pop, No. 9 Black Singles) brought Teena Marie her first top 40 hit; it also peaked at No. 28 in the UK chart.

That same year, Teena Marie appeared on James’ album, Street Songs, with the duet “Fire and Desire”. In an interview, Teena Marie said she had a fever at the time yet managed to record her vocals in one take. After the session, she was driven to a hospital. The two would perform the single at the 2004 BET Awards, which would be their last TV appearance with one another, as James died later that year.

Teena Marie continued her success with Motown in 1981, with the release of It Must Be Magic (#2 Black Albums Chart), her first gold record, which included “Square Biz” (#3 Black Singles). Other notable tracks include “Portuguese Love” (featuring a brief, uncredited cameo by James, No. 54 Black Singles), the title track “It Must be Magic” (#30 Black Singles), and the album only track “Yes Indeed”, which she cited as a personal favorite.

In 1982, Teena Marie got into a heated legal battle with Motown Records over her contract and disagreements about releasing her new material. The lawsuit resulted in “The Brockert Initiative”, which made it illegal for a record company to keep an artist under contract without releasing new material for that artist. In such instances, artists are able to sign [and release] with another label instead of being held back by an un supportive one. Teena Marie commented on the law in an LA Times article, saying, “It wasn’t something I set out to do. I just wanted to get away from Motown and have a good life. But it helped a lot of people, like Luther Vandross and the Mary Jane Girls, and a lot of different artists, to be able to get out of their contracts.” She left Motown as the label’s most successful white solo act.

Contacted by Epic Records in the fall of 1982, after expressing dismay over her Motown contract, Teena Marie signed a worldwide deal with the Columbia Records subsidiary that also allowed her to establish her own publishing company, Midnight Magnet. Epic released the concept album Robbery, which featured the hit “Fix It” (#21 R&B), as well as “Shadow Boxing” and “Casanova Brown.” (The latter was one of many tracks Teena Marie would write over the years about her real-life romance with one-time mentor Rick James. The relationship had ended by that point, but the two continued a sometimes tempestuous friendship until James’ death, in August 2004.)

In 1984, Teena Marie released her biggest-selling album, Starchild. It yielded her biggest hit “Lovergirl”, which peaked at No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in March 1985 and at No. 9 on the R&B chart. While it was never said or published publicly, we believe this was a PRINCE PRODUCED, PRINCE PENNED SONG. Why? Watch the video, it has PRINCE production, PRINCE style and PRINCE’s band members from the Revolution all over and in it.

In 1986, Teena Marie released a rock music-influenced concept album titled Emerald City. It was controversial with her established fan base and not as successful as its predecessors. She also recorded the rock-influenced track, “Lead Me On”, co-produced by Giorgio Moroder, for the soundtrack of the box office hit film Top Gun (1986).

In 1988, she returned to R&B and funk, releasing the critically acclaimed album Naked to the World. That album contained the hit “Ooo La La La”, which reached the top of Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and was her only No. 1 single on that chart. During her 1988 Naked to the World concert tour, she suffered a fall and was hospitalized for six months.

Teena Marie released Ivory in the fall of 1990; it scored no pop hits, but it did experience two R&B hits: “Here’s Looking at You” (#11 R&B) and “If I Were a Bell” (#8 R&B)

Anywho… Epic also released the moderate R&B hit “Out on a Limb”, which peaked at No. 56 on the R&B chart but didn’t break the Hot 100. “14k” was featured on the soundtrack of the film The Goonies (1985) but was not a hit (only making the U.S. R&B charts at #87).

Teena Marie released Ivory in the fall of 1990; it scored no pop hits, but it did experience two R&B hits: “Here’s Looking at You” (#11 R&B) and “If I Were a Bell” (#8 R&B)

Teena Marie never married. She gave birth to a daughter named Alia Rose in 1991. As of 2009, Alia Rose sings under the name Rose LeBeau.

Teena Marie was godmother to Marvin Gaye’s daughter, Nona Gaye. She also cared for Rick James’s son, Rick, Jr., and family friend Jeremiah O’Neal. Lenny Kravitz posted a video in which he said that Teena Marie had taken him into her home and helped him when he was struggling early in his career.

In 2004, while Teena Marie was sleeping in a hotel room, a large picture frame fell and struck her on the head. The blow caused a serious concussion that would cause momentary seizures for the rest of her life. In 2005, she was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the song “I’m Still In Love”.

On the afternoon of December 26, 2010, Teena Marie was found unresponsive at her home in Pasadena by her daughter, Alia Rose. On December 30, 2010, an autopsy was performed by the Los Angeles County coroner, who found no signs of apparent trauma or a discernible cause of death and concluded she had died from natural causes. She had suffered a tonic–clonic seizure a month before.

A memorial service was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery on January 10, 2011. Among those in attendance were Stevie Wonder, Deniece Williams, Smokey Robinson, Queen Latifah, LisaRaye, Sinbad, Tichina Arnold, Shanice Wilson, and Berry Gordy, Jr.

Enjoy Lady T’s music and more below.

Source: WikiPedia and The Beat Staff

Find Teena Marie playing in many of the mixes we feature each weekend on our Friday Night Jams and Saturday Night Live Ain’t No Jive Chicago Dance Party. Click here for mixes