The 1980s was full of great music and a plethora of categories that still influence music today. One of the biggest ones was cocaine infused funk music from the likes of the SOS Band, Prince, Rick James, and the extraordinary Teena Marie. She served us “blue eyed soul”, classic duets with Rick James, and flare. Her big red hair, electric guitar, rap breaks, and undeniable passion makes her a favorite today for all of our aunts and uncles at family barbecues.
Born Mary Christine Brockert in Santa Monica, California she always knew she was a star. As a child she loved singing Motown songs, and even had a role on the Beverly Hillbillies at the tender age of 8. In her mid twenties Marie was introduced to record executives at Motown in 1976 and later met Rick James, and the magic happened. Her first album “Wild and Peaceful” didn’t have her picture on it because Motown did not know how to market a white girl with so much soul, but after performing on Soul Train the cat was out of the bag.
Teena Marie released two more albums in the “Lady T” and “Irons in the Fire”, but it wasn’t until the 80s when Rick James featured her on “Fire and Desire” she reached superstar status. Her next release “Must Be Magic” featured “Square Biz and Teena’s career lifted of. Motown didn’t believe in the new sound she was developing so she left and went to Epic.
Teena Marie had her biggest hits at Epic: “Cassanove Brown”, “Lovergirl”, “Oooh La La La”, and more. She was featured in many soundtracks for the 80s top movies like “The Goonies” and “Top Gun”. After parting from Epic Records, Marie took a hiatus, but during that time many of her songs were sampled by artists like the Fugees, Missy Elliot and Ciara, Jadakiss, Snoop Dogg, Three Six Mafia, and more.
Teena made a comeback in 2004 with “La Dona” working with super producer Mannie Fresh, and artists like Gerald Levert. She even performed “Fire and Desire” after years of being separated from Rick James for almost a decade at the BET Awards that year.
In December of 2010, Teena Marie died of natural causes.
Teena’s music will forever be known for it’s crooning, realness, love, and funk. She blended piano, guitars, and percussion in a way that many artists mimicked. She blended her spiritual outlook on life, her experiences, and love for the world into each of her songs creating something so pure for that era.
Her music lives on because even today songs like “Deja Vu (I Been Here Before)” resonate with the world of today. She is still remembered by her friends, family, and fans as one of the Queens of her time.
Artists like Ciara, Monica, Lauryn Hill, Solange, and more cite her as one of their inspirations. Lines from her songs, samples from her band, and even her look are repeated throughout music and hip-hop culture today. She will forever be remembered in music because she was not afraid to stand out and be a little different even when pressured to fit a mold. Forever loved, we remember the icon that is Teena Marie.