Legendary R&B singer, Teena Marie, passed away in Los Angeles over the holiday weekend. She was just 54 years old.
Marie was found unconscious by her daughter at her home in Pasadena, California on Sunday (December 26). Apparently, she passed away in her sleep, her manager told CNN.
At press time, no cause of death has been released, but her publicist said that Marie had suffered a grand mal seizure a month ago, which she was still recovering from.
Born on March 5th, 1956 in Santa Monica, Calif., as Mary Christine Brockert, Marie was raised in a predominantly black area of Venice and began singing professionally at age 8. After graduating from Venice High School, she landed a deal with with Motown Records, where she met the legendary Rick James, who took the young singer under his wing and mentored her throughout her music career.
She released her debut album, Wild and Peaceful, in 1979 via Motown, which featured a duet with James. The album’s artwork didn’t feature a picture of Marie, so many radio programmers assumed the singer — with her powerful voice — was black.
But, her race wasn’t a factor, after Marie won over fans with her talents.
In the early 1980s, after dropping her fourth album It Must Be Magic, Marie got into a heated legal battle with Motown Records over her contract and disagreements on releasing new material. It resulted in “The Brockert Initiative”, which makes it illegal for a record company to keep an artist under contract without releasing new material. It allowed artists to sign and release with another label instead of being held to a contract by an unsupportive one.
By 1983, she signed to Epic Records, and released slew of albums, including Robbery, Emerald City, Naked to the World and Starchild, which included her biggest chart-topper, “Lovergirl.”
In the early 1990s, Marie left Epic, releasing an album on her own label, before joining Cash Money Records, where she released La Dona in 2004 and Sapphire in 2006.
In 2009 came her last album, Congo Square, which was released with iconic soul label, Stax.
Her influence is felt among many of today’s R&B stars, including the legendary Mary J. Blige who tweeted (@MaryJBlige) that Marie “inspired me vocally as a child. Her songs I sang in the mirror with a hair brush. I’m so hurt. Rest in peace Teena Mari. My Love love for u is forever.”
Some reports said Marie battled a prescription-drug addiction during the latter part of her life.
R.I.P. to a musical great.