Mary Christine Brockert, better known by her stage name Teena Marie, died of natural causes on Sunday, December 26, 2010, at her home in Pasadena. Teena grew up in Venice and attended Venice High. She was 54.
From The WSJ:
Said to have a voice that launched a thousand babies, Teena Marie was one of the first white women to score hits consistently on the R&B charts. And though never the diva, she liked to call herself “The Ivory Queen of Soul.”
Teena Marie was born Mary Christine Brockert. Her parents, a carpenter and a childcare worker, were devotees of Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne. The family’s beachside Los Angeles enclave, Venice, was alive with the sounds of Sly and the Family Stone, the Jackson 5 and Latin music.
In her 1981 song “Square Biz” she touched on her influences: “I like spirituals and rock/Sarah Vaughan, Johann Sebastian Bach/Shakespeare, Maya Angelou/and Nikki Giovanni just to name a few.”
Signed by Motown in 1976, she languished before being discovered by the funk legend Rick James, also on Motown at the time. Her first album, “Wild and Peaceful,” came out in 1979 and featured “I’m a Sucker for Your Love,” an up-tempo duet with and written by Mr. James that reached No. 8 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart.
When Teena Marie’s early records sold modestly despite the obvious talents of the singer, Newsweek magazine opined in 1980, “‘Lady T, who is white, may be the oddest casualty of radio’s color barrier: because she sounds black, most white pop stations won’t touch her records.”
Continue reading the rest of the article at the Wall Street Journal by clicking here.