Teena Marie Biography

Mary Christine Brockert, 5 March 1957, Santa Monica, California, USA. A singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer, Teena Marie is rightly fêted as one of the few white artists to sustain a consistent career in the US soul market. Spotted by Motown Records’ Berry Gordy in the 70s, he linked her up with funk star and labelmate Rick James, and her early career strongly reflected their joint influences. The highly commercial 1979 debut album, Wild And Peaceful, saw her backed by James and the Stone City Band on a set that included their hit duet, ‘I’m A Sucker For Your Love’. She returned the favour by partnering James on ‘Fire And Desire’ on his Street Songs album in 1981.

Afterwards, Marie took increasing control of her career and songwriting, singing both ballads and funk. She achieved great success on the R&B charts, while both ‘I Need Your Lovin’’ and ‘Square Biz’ reached the Top 20 of the US Billboard pop charts in 1980 and 1981, respectively. In the UK, ‘Behind The Groove’, a surprise disco smash at number 6 in the singles chart, led to confusion in public minds over her and the similarly titled Kelly Marie (it also, accidentally, picked up on the prevalent UK disco trend for songs with ‘Groove’ in the title). However, her greatest success followed her move to Epic Records, which some saw as an assertion of her independence (her legal battle with Motown ended with the US courts passing a law named after the singer), with the number 4-peaking US hit, ‘Lovergirl’.

Afterwards, Teena Marie’s chart career declined. 1986’s Emerald City was a funky outing, notable particularly for Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar solo on ‘You So Heavy’. Demonstrating her talent for modernizing her technique with the advent of each new instalment in R&B’s development, Ivory was co-produced by Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B. The singer recorded for her own Sarai imprint in the 90s before making a surprise move to the Cash Money label and releasing 2004’s La Doña.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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