Remembering Teena Marie: A few choice jams from the ‘80s funk singer-songwriter-producer

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CNN is reporting that Grammy-nominated singer and Rick James protegée Teena Marie has died at age 54.

The multi-talented vocalist, who was born in Santa Monica, got her break at Motown Records in 1979, and went on to be one of the most prominent R&B female vocalists of the 1980s, a white singer who, somewhat improbably, managed to cross over to black radio and retail through songs such as ‘Lovergirl,’ ‘It Must Be Magic,’ ‘I’m a Sucker for Your Love’ and ‘Square Biz.’

Pop & Hiss will update as we learn more.

[Updated 8:37 p.m. Twitter is alive with remembrances and 140-word-or-less kudos to Marie, who, though she’d been out of the spotlight for many years, continued to have a remarkably devoted fanbase.

Chicago rapper Common tweeted: ‘R.I.P. Lady T! Your rhyme in Square Biz is and will always be classic material!’


Singer Mary J. Blige, who has long cited Marie as an influence, has been writing heartfelt notes for the last half-hour: ‘Tina Mari inspired me vocally as a child. Her songs I sang in the mirror with a hair brush. I’m so hurt.’

She continued: ‘I’ll love u forever Tina Mari. Portuguese Love, Casanova Brown, Square Biz, I need your lovin, all of your music.’

And DJ and Stones Throw records kingpin Peanut Butter Wolf gave her a shout-out, as well: ‘RIP Teena Marie. Can’t believe it and don’t wanna hear it,’ he wrote, followed by: ‘Remembering how good I felt when I heard @Spindeezy play Square Biz & Gigolette back to back.’

Missy Elliott just posted: ‘My Prayers go out to Teena Marie family. Teena created music that is Timeless! Songs sung with soul and conviction a True LEGEND!’

Alicia Keys was nearly speechless: ‘Teena Marie??????Why???? how??? ;-(‘

Questlove, drummer of the Roots: ‘again the mark of a TRUE ARTIST is when their album cuts get more love than the hits. Marie’s magic was defined by her album cuts.’

More tributes as they arrive.

-- Randall Roberts