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Singer Teena Marie dies at 54

Teena Teena Marie, who had hits like "Lovergirl," "Square Biz," and "Fire and Desire" with mentor Rick James, has died. She was 54.

The confirmation came from a publicist, Jasmine Vega, who worked with Teena Marie on her last album. No other details were available.

Teena Marie, known as the "Ivory Queen of Soul," was certainly not the first white act to sing soul music, but she was arguably among the most gifted and respected, and was thoroughly embraced by the black audience.

She was first signed to the legendary Motown label back in 1979, working with James, with whom she would have a long, turbulent but musically magical relationship.

The cover of her album, "Wild and Peaceful," did not feature her image, with Motown apparently fearing backlash by audiences if they found out the songstress with the dynamic voice was white.

But Marie had her first hit, "I'm A Sucker for Your Love," and was on her way to becoming one of R&B's most revered queens. During her tenure with Motown, the singer-songwriter and musician produced passionate love songs and funk jam songs like "Need Your Lovin'," "Behind the Groove" and "Ooh La La La."

Marie had a daughter and had toured in recent years after overcoming an addiction to prescription drugs.

An obituary will follow at

--Associated Press

Photo: Teena Marie in 2008. Credit: Associated Press

For the record: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Teena Marie was 19 when she was signed by Motown and was the label's first white artist.

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Comments (135)

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RIP Lady T ...

Ms Tee will certainly be missed. I was very sad to learn about the news that she passed away, but she will live on through her music.

Saddened to her of her passing. I really loved her music, and remember seeing her and Rick James in concert in Long Beach. She was very gifted. May she rest in peace.

RIP to Miss Blue Eyes Soul. You lit up a lot of peoples' lives and will be greatly missed.

Wasn't Rod Stewart signed with Motown when he first arrived from England?

Teena Marie, who I dearly loved as an artist, was not the first white act signed by Motown- that distinction belongs to a band call Rustix, who were then followed by Rare Earth, an all white rock and soul band of the early 1970's

Teena Marie was a a fellow Venice High School Alumni.
Local Girl made good.

God Speed.

And thanks for the good times with your music.

Very sad. She is a legend. But note to LA Times - she could not have been signed to Motown in 1979 at age 19 if she passed at age 54 in 2010. It's just facts thing.

so sad for the passing of a true OLD SCHOOL DIVA born in a era the required you to ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO "BLOW" without electronic enhancements.

Lady T was in the same category as Patty LaBelle, in the opinion of this 58 yr. old brother. I am great fan of old skool music and Tina Marie was in the top eschalon of soul singers, Black or White. I saw her perform this past summer at the Pomona Fair Grounds in Ca., and she still had the pipes and stage presents to turn the show out. Had us on our feet the entire show. R.I.P. Lady T, you will be missed.

Oh dear lord. Im so upset.. I used to love listening to Teena marie. Lovergirl was my favorite. How depressing. But i guess when its your time its your time. RIP Teena sweetheart! We love you.

Today is a sad day in the music industry..we have lost another legend! I've had the pleasure of meeting her on a number of occasions while touring with The SoS Band and other artists as a musician. She was a really nice person, very friendly and an amazing talent. My condolences to her daughter and family & friends, manager, music director and band. God Bless You Teena..thank u 4 blessing us with your gifts!

"Portuguese Love" is one of my favorites. Another great talent gone to soon. God's speed Teena and condolences to family and friends.

Teena came to the Hampton Jazz Festival and turned it out. She was a true professional. I have her two latest CDs--they are great. Fire and Desire still gives me chills. I am shocked over her death. We have a lost a true entertainer, and Teena was scheduled to return to the jazz festival.

"If I were a bell, baby, I would ring
Tell the whole world that you are my everything
If I were a bell, baby, you would know
That you are my only lover and it's wonderful"

Rest In Peace Lady T I will miss your soul!

I cannot beleive that Teena Marie has passed on. She was way to young to leave us. RIP Teena Marie!

So sorry to hear of her passing. I grew up with her music and will always remember her voice fondly. Rest in peace.

Chris Clark

"Love's Gone Bad" was a song recorded by Chris Clark; came out in July of 1966. A Holland-Dozier-Holland song that didn't chart, but a very good song. Chris Clark is one of those great, seldom-told stories in Motown. She was Californian, blond and white, at a time when Motown wasn't recording many white artists.

During her tenure with Motown, the singer-songwriter and musician produced passionate love songs and funk jam songs like "Need Your Lovin'," "Behind the Groove" and "Ooh La La La."
Actually, its "I Need Your Lovin.'" And "Ooh La La La" was from a [post-Motown] release, 1988's "Naked To The World" (Epic/CBS, 1988).

I remember going to a concert with Teena and the Isley Brothers who performed first. It took everything I had to stay awake because they were too laid back.

But Lady T? This was the first time I EVER was up on my feet dancing for the majority of the concert. They (promoters) tried to cut her show short but after the crowd raised so much hell, they let her continue for another 30 minutes.

Love you Lady T and RIP.

The First Lady of Rap and the Wonderful voice of soul ...Sleep my dear sleep ..

Oh MG....I was Just singing Fire & Desire when I heard about Tee Marie...''What A Lost''.. RIP MS.TM, you will be missed from your last performance on the awards but your music will forever live on!!!!
God Bless!

I Send My Love & Best Regards For The Lovely Ms Teena Marie
Who Was A Good Hearted Person. Rest In Love & Peace. GOD Will Bless You So Much.

Oh MG...It is hard to beleive that Lady TEE. Has passed on. I as Just listening to Fire & Desire. ''What a Lost''. I still remember her @ THE LAST AWARDS & HER UNSONG STORY. She looked good. RIP LADY T. You will be missed but your music will live on within us.
''God Bless...The Family

I am in shock...she was a Great Singer and her music will always be among our favorites. My husband and I will keep her music alive in our home for all future generations to appreciate.



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