Losing Earth Angel ‘Lady T’; Heaven Gains a Rhapsodic Soul
R.I.P. Teena Marie
March 5, 1956 – December 26, 2010
She was born Mary Christine Brockert in Oakland, California, so steeped in African American musical traditions that when her cut “Behind the Groove” was released, I, too, bought into the myth that Teena Marie was Black. But behind all the monikers such as “Ivory Queen of Soul,” Teena Marie was a musical force to be reckoned with.
Not only a singer, but also a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and producer, Lady T rocked our world with memorable songs such as “Lover Girl” and “I Need Your Lovin'”; rapped her “sass “off and introduced a new generation to Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni in “Square Biz”; enchanted us with the sublime lyrics of “Aladdin’s Lamp” and “Casanova Brown”; and left us in rhapsody with the sultry ballad “Portuguese Love.”
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of listening to the extended version of “Portuguese Love,” I implore you to do so, and to bring your dancing shoes and ready your samba hips for the song’s Brazilian-jazz finale. Aiii-AIIII!!!
My most memorable Teena Marie moment happened at Nassau Coliseum in 1982. She joined Dr. “Super Freak” himself, Rick James, onstage for a searing, intimate performance of “Fire and Desire.” Because I had left my opera glasses at home, I couldn’t see much. I’ll put it to you this way: Teena Marie looked like an explosion of blond curls above a cinnamon-brown minidress as small as Pebbles Flintstone’s, and Rick James resembled a box-braided version of Cousin It complete with glittery bulge. Hot damn, were they a sexy pair! I wouldn’t be surprised if their duet at the Long Island stadium that night was responsible for doubling the Black and Latino population of the hamlet of Uniondale.
Teena Marie’s last recorded CD was Congo Square. In the last interview I saw of her on cable television, the artist appeared so happy and optimistic to be touring in promotion of Congo Square.
Missing you dearly, Lady T … Blow a kiss to soulmate R.J. in heaven.