Teena Marie Explained

Teena Marie
Birth Name:Mary Christine Brockert
Born:5 March 1956
Origin:Santa Monica, California, United States
Instrument:vocals, piano, electric guitar
Genre:Blue-eyed soul, disco, R&B, funk, dance-pop, rock, Freestyle
Occupation:Singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, arranger
Years Active:1976–present
Label:Motown/MCA Records (1976–1982)
Epic/CBS Records (1983–1990)
Ca$h Money Classics/Universal Records (2004–2007)
Associated Acts:Rick James
Url:Official Web Site

Teena Marie (born Mary Christine Brockert on March 5, 1956) is an American Grammy Award-nominated singersongwriterproducer. Marie, nicknamed Lady T, is a protegée of late funk legend Rick James, and is notable as one of the few successful Caucasian performers of R&B, or blue-eyed soul. She sings R&B with big, robust vocals, and is proficient on rhythm guitar. She also has written, produced, sung and arranged virtually all of her songs since her 1980 release Irons in the Fire. She has quoted this as being her favorite album. She has a daughter named Alia Rose.[1] [2]


Marie, was born in Santa Monica, California. She is of Portuguese, Irish, Italian, and Native American ancestry. Marie grew up in Oakwood, a neighborhood in West Los Angeles that was nicknamed Venice Harlem because of its majority Black population. Teena Marie worked briefly at Pup 'n Taco in the mid 1970s while attending Venice High School, where she joined the Summer Dance Production, and also had a role in the school's production of The Music Man. The singer-songwriter-producer who had changed her name to Teena Marie was just seventeen, trying to get a deal at Motown, when she met her mentor and paramour-to-be, Rick James, who ended up doing all of the writing and producing of her debut album of 1979, Wild and Peaceful. That LP, which boasted her hit duet with James, "I'm Just a Sucker for Your Love", lacked an image of Marie; due to this action many radio programmers assumed she was African American. This proved to be not true when her picture later emerged on the next album cover.

After It Must Be Magic (which included the major hit "Square Biz") she left Motown Records, and a nasty legal battle began. Marie got out of her contract with Motown, and the case ended up with the courts passing what is known as the Teena Marie Law (formally called The Brockert Initiative)—which states that a label cannot keep an artist under contract without putting out an album by him or her.


After signing with Motown Records in 1976 as a backup singer, Smokey Robinson devotee Marie hooked up with James for her first album, titled Wild and Peaceful, released in 1979. Legend has had it that thanks to James's refusal to work with Diana Ross (because he was not allowed to produce her entire album) that he began working with Marie, who found her first successes with the songs "I'm a Sucker for Your Love" and "Deja Vu (I've Been Here Before)."

After James' initial guidance, Marie opened the 1980s by producing two hit albums. Lady T, co-produced by Richard Rudolph (Minnie Riperton's husband and creative partner), featured the hit R&B single "Behind the Groove" (#21 R&B) and "Too Many Colors," which featured Rudolph and Riperton's then-7-year-old daughter, Maya Rudolph. Its follow-up, Irons in the Fire, contained her first pop hit, "I Need Your Lovin'" (#9 R&B, #37 Pop) and "Young Love" (#41 R&B). In 1981, she released her best-selling album on Motown, the gold-certified It Must Be Magic. It yielded the hit songs "Square Biz," written by Marie and Allen McGrier; "Portuguese Love," a song that paid tribute to her Portuguese ancestry; and the title track. That same year, she also appeared on James' hugely successful album Street Songs, where they scored a huge hit with their duet "Fire and Desire."

Success, however, did not mean Marie was satisfied professionally or was stable financially. Upon discovering she had been underpaid royalties for the four albums she recorded for Motown, Marie decided to leave the label and later sued it for having restricted her artistic control. A law was passed as a result, known as the Brockert Initiative, popularly known as the Teena Marie Law, which set a precedent for artists seeking control of their careers by limiting the length of recording contracts.

After leaving in 1982, she signed with Epic Records in 1983 and released the concept album Robbery, which featured the hit "Fix It" (#21 R&B), as well as "Shadow Boxing" and "Casanova Brown." The latter was allegedly about her real-life romance with mentor Rick James. In 1984, Marie released her biggest-selling album, Starchild. It yielded the singles "Lovergirl" and "Out on a Limb," the former of which became Marie's highest-peaking single to date on the US pop charts, peaking at #4, while peaking at #9 on the R&B charts. "Out on a Limb" was not as successful as "Lovergirl" on the R&B Charts, however, peaking only at #56. Also in 1985, "14k" (R&B #87) was featured on the soundtrack of the film Goonies.

In 1986, Marie released a rock and roll concept album titled Emerald City. It was not as successful as her predecessors and in 1988 she returned to her R&B and funk roots releasing the critically-acclaimed album Naked to the World. That album contained the hit "Ooo La La La," which reached the top of Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, and remains her only #1 single on that chart to date.

Marie released Ivory in the fall of 1990. Despite the success of the first two singles, "Here's Looking at You" (#11 R&B) and "If I Were a Bell" (#8 R&B), Epic Records was not totally pleased with sales of the album. So Marie and her label mutually agreed to go their separate ways. In the fall of 1994, Marie released Passion Play on her own independent label and subsequently devoted most of her time to raise her daughter, Alia Rose.[3]

During the 1990s, Marie's classic R&B, soul and funk records were either sampled by hip-hop artists or covered by R&B divas. Marie herself is regarded as something of a pioneer in helping to bring hip-hop to the mainstream by becoming one of the first and only artists of her time to rhyme on one of her singles—the aforementioned "Square Biz." In the hip-hop portion of that song, she mentions some of her inspirations: Sarah Vaughn, Johann Sebastian Bach, Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, and Nikki Giovanni, "just to name a few," as she said. In 1996, the Fugees paid tribute to her by interpolating the chorus of her 1988 hit "Ooo, La, La, La" on its own "Fu-Gee-La," which was a huge hit.


After a 14-year sabbatical from the national spotlight, Marie returned to her musical career by signing with the Classics sub-label of the successful hip-hop label Cash Money Records, and she released her comeback album, La Doña, in 2004. It became a gold-certified success (and the highest-charting album of her career, peaking at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart) on the basis of the Al Green-sampled "I'm Still In Love" (#23 R&B, #70 Pop) and a duet with the late Gerald Levert, "A Rose by Any Other Name." Marie was nominated for a 2005 Grammy Award for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance for "I'm Still In Love." Marie quickly followed this success with the release of Sapphire in 2006. While sales were not as great this time around (the album peaked at #24 on the Pop Chart), the release did give Marie yet another R&B Top-40 hit, "Ooh Wee" (#32); it also reunited her (on "God Has Created" and "Cruise Control") with Smokey Robinson, the early Motown mentor whose style she had emulated on early hits such as "Young Love." During the late 1990s, she made appearances (as herself) on the TV sitcoms The Steve Harvey Show and The Parkers.

Marie recently decided to part ways with Ca$h Money records. She has a new album called Congo Square, which is due for release early in 2009. She has described this as "personal and spiritual" and indicated that it will be more jazz-influenced than most of her previous work.

On September 9, 2008, Marie was honored with an Pioneer Award from the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. On September 19, 2008, Marie performed in concert at BB King's restaurant in NYC. Marie took this time to play a couple of finished tracks from her upcoming album, and she received a positive response from the crowd.




Covers, samples, and collaborations


External links

Notes and References

  1. http://www.pictureperfectagency.com/index.php?module=assetserver&page=setDetail&setId=62143&hLids=755632:755633 PicturePerfectAgency.com
  2. http://www.wireimage.com/SearchResults.aspx?navtyp=SRH&sfld=C&logsrch=1&s=alia%20rose WireImage.com – The Largest Entertainment Photo & Video Archive
  3. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=teena+marie+Alia+Rose