b. Mary Christine Brockert, 5th March 1956, Santa Monica, California, U.S.A.
d. 26th December 2010, Pasadena, California, U.S.A.
Teena Marie is one of a very few select White singers, whom have been unreservedly, musically, accepted within the tapestry of Soul Music, consistently maintaining her popularity throughout her career.
Teena is an accomplished vocalist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer.
She was born in Santa Monica, California, with her roots being part Belgian, Portuguese, Irish, Italian, and Native American.
Her father was Thomas Leslie Brockert, who passed away in 1976. The album 'Irons In The Fire' was dedicated to him. Teena's mother is French.
Teena was raised in Oakwood, and attended Venice High School, where she joined the Summer Dance Production, and also performed a role in the school's production of 'The Music Man'.
Teena initially signed with Motown Records in 1976 as a backing singer.
Berry Gordy held back on releasing material on Teena, believing that the material on offer at the time was not up to her high standard.
He stated that Teena could sing 'Mary Had A Little Lamb', or the telephone book, and still make the source material sound classy!
Berry teamed her up with funk star and labelmate Rick James, and her early career strongly reflected their joint influences.
wild and peaceful - 1979 / lady t - 1980
The highly commercial 'Wild And Peaceful' saw her backed by Rick James and the Stone City Band on a set that included their hit duet, 'I'm A Sucker For Your Love'.
Wild And Peaceful' did not show a picture of Teena Marie on the sleeve, leading many people to believe that she was a Black vocalist.
wild and peaceful UK rear cover
The U.K. release did, however, have an image of Teena on the rear sleeve.
It was only when the 'Lady T' album saw the light of day, that everything became clearer.
'Lady T' was produced by Richard Rudolph, who had originally wanted his recently deceased wife, Minnie Riperton, to perform the song 'Now That I Have You", however the song was later given to Teena for her new album.
Following Rick James' previous collaboration on 'I'm A Sucker For Your Love', Teena returned the compliment on the song 'Fire And Desire' for Rick's 'Street Songs' album in 1981.
The duo fell out on stage from time to time. Audiences believed that the on stage disputes were part of the show.
At this time Teena took more of a hands on role in all aspects of her artistic output (which included songwriting).
irons in the fire - 1980 / it must be magic - 1981
A year earlier Teena had released her third LP, 'Irons in The Fire' (which is her favourite album recording), on which she had previously handled all writing and production herself.
She recorded all the horn and rhythm arrangements of her band and all the backing vocal chores.
The single 'I Need Your Lovin' (number 37 Pop) brought Teena her first top 40 hit.
'It Must Be Magic' was released the following year and became her first gold record.
'Square Biz' reached the Top 20 of the U.S. Billboard charts a year later, whilst the song 'Portugesian Love' became a huge hit on the R & B charts, reflecting a biographical melody relating to a personal relationship she had developed with Rick James.
By 1982, Teena's relationship with Motown Records had become strained, with disputes arising regarding the issue of material and the contractual arrangements that came as part of the package.
robbery - 1983 / starchild - 1984
Teena expalined the resulting 'Brockert Initiative':
'I didn't set out to do that it just happened a few years later. When I left Motown they sued me and I counter sued and won. 'The Brockett Initiative' came about because at the time I was at Motown you could bind an artist's contract for 7 years and the minimum wage was $6000 a year but that was set in 1911 and it was 1981 so I was being paid less than $6000 a year. It was time for me to go. Rick James said I should go and he would follow and I was listening to him but he never did leave. Looking back I'm not sure if he intended to either. Some have suggested that he wanted Motown to just concentrate on him without my presence on the label, but I don't know that to be true I hasten to add, but he stayed there years after before his final album on Warner Brothers. However now, due to that law, they've upped the wage and you can only sign an artist for 5 years, so something good came out of that.'
She left the label and signed with the Epic imprint, releasing the album 'Robbery' in 1983, which contained the ballad 'Casanova Brown'.
A year earlier, she collaborated with the late Carl Anderson on his 'Absence With Out Love', on the track 'AWOL'.
In 1984, she released the album 'Starchild', which contained one of the first tribute songs to the recently deceased Marvin Gaye, namely 'My Dear Mr. Gaye', a song that parodied his own 'What's Going On' melody, and soon became a huge favourite among Soul fans.
emerald city - 1986 / naked to the world - 1988
1986 saw Teena take a 'rock detour' for her 'Emerald City' release, (although the album did contain the popular 'Batucada Suite'), and returned to the Soul fold in 1988 with her album 'Naked To The World', which contained 'Ooo La La La', a song that made the peak of Billboard's Hot R & B / Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
Teena released her final album for Epic in 1990.
ivory - 1990 / passion play - 1994
Entitled, 'Ivory' the album was produced by Soul II Soul's Jazzie B.
'Just Us Two' became a huge dancefloor hit, although the club success did not materialize within the mainstream, and Teena left the imprint.
She returned to recording on the Serai label, in 1994, for 'Passion Play', which featured the excellent 'Mainsqueeze'.
By this time Teena was bringing up her daughter (Alia Rose a.k.a. Rose Lebeau) and recording sporadically.
She appeared on the soundtrack to 'New York Undercover' in 1998 with an excellent rendition of Rose Royce's 'Wishing On A Star'.
pamela williams - evolution
In 2002, Teena appeared as a guest vocalist on a Pamela Williams album, singing the melody 'I Am Love'.
The same year, and album entitled 'Black Rain' was recorded. The 14 track set was never released, although tracks did make the 2004 'La Dona' album.
la dona - 2006 / sapphire - 2006
Teena fully returned to her musical career by signing with Cash Money Records, and releasing a comeback album, 'La Dona', in 2004.
The album went gold (number 6 on the Billboard 200 chart) and she was nominated for a 2005 Grammy Award for Best R & B Female Vocal Performance for 'Still in Love' (taken from the album).
teena and rick james at BET Awards 2004
At the 2004 BET Awards, Rick James and Teena performed their song 'Fire and Desire', a performance which would be the two's last TV appearence with one another as Rick James passed away later that year.
'La Dona' was followed up with, the equally impressive, 'Sapphire', in 2006.
Following this album release, Teena left Cash Money and joined the resurgent ranks of the new Stax / Concord Records label.
congo square - 2009 / beautiful - 2013
2009 saw the summer release of the album 'Congo Square' for the label.
She said of her new album:
'Congo Square is a place in New Orleans where slaves were allowed to dance and sing on Sundays. It's kind of a tribute to a lot of the jazz musicians that came through New Orleans (and) the people that I loved when I was growing up. Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and then a lot of the younger jazz artists now (such as) Jill Scott and Erykah Badu.'
In 2010, Teena returned to the U.K., after an 18 year absence, for a one off gig at the London O2 arena, where she was joined on stage by her daughter, Rose Lebeau, and her nephew, who duetted with her on a 2010 take on 'Fire and Desire'.
Teena said her favourite vocalist is Sarah Vaughn, and her daughter, Rose, filled her i-Pod for her!
Tragically, on Boxing Day 2010, Teena was found unconscious by her daughter at her Pasadena home around 3 p.m., according to Pasadena Police. She had died.
Her publicist stated that Teena suffered a grand mal seizure, which is a neurological event, marked by loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions.
In 2013, Teena's daughter completed the production works on a new album entitled 'Beautiful', which, to all intents and purposes, was a brand new album of new recordings by the singer, along with a new version of the Curtis Mayfield evergreen 'Give Me Your Love'.
Wild And Peaceful (Gordy Records 1979)
Lady T (Gordy Records 1980)
Irons In The Fire (Gordy Records 1980)
It Must Be Magic (Gordy Records 1981)
Robbery (Epic Records 1983)
Starchild (Epic Records 1984)
Emerald City (Epic Records 1986)
Naked To The World (Epic Records 1988)
Ivory (Epic Records 1990)
Passion Play (Serai Records 1994)
Black Rain (unreleased) (Teena Marie 2002)
La Dona (Cash Money Records 2004)
Sapphire (Cash Money Records 2006)
Congo Square (Stax Records 2009)
Beautiful (Universal Records 2013)