Monday, December 27, 2010

R.I.P. Lady T

Teena Marie died on Sunday, Dec 26. She was 54 and as of this report, died of natural causes while asleep.

The Ivory Queen of Soul was a songwriter, Rick James collaborator (and longtime friend/former lover of Mr. Superfreak) and one of the best voices of the post-disco funk era. She gave herself the "Ivory Queen" title, but Motown, the first label she signed to, nicknamed her "Lady T."

Any kid who listened to Top 40 radio in the mid-'80s heard her crossover hit "Lovergirl." The circular irony of that song's success was that two of Marie's contemporaries, Rick James and Prince, helped open the pop market for slick, race-be-damned r&b ladies via their respective girl-group creations, The Mary Jane Girls and Vanity 6/Apallonia 6. Yet those groups couldn't have happened without Teena Marie first blasting through via her late '70s and early '80s Motown recordings.

We shall now go listen (again) to Teena Marie's joyful 1981 single "Square Biz."