Monday, 27 December 2010

R.I.P Teena Marie: Long Live the Ivory Queen of Soul

I wasn't expecting my first post on this blog in over a month to be such a sad one.

Regretfully it is - Teena Marie, aka Lady T aka The Ivory Queen of Soul and aged just 54, was found dead by her daughter on Saturday night. No cause is as yet known, possibly a heart attack; Teena was also reportedly recovering from a Grand Mal seizure she had last week.

Teena's music first came to my attention in 1980, when Behind the Groove completely sold me on her unique style. I sought out the album, Lady T, and then her previous, first album, Wild and Peaceful, produced by mentor Rick James, also sadly no longer with us. With beautiful ballads and infectiously catchy dance rhythms, I was hooked. Her following Motown albums - Irons in the Fire and It Must Be Magic cemented my appreciation of her soulful yet jazzy, powerful yet gentle, pure and classy angelic vocal.

I'll admit she lost me when she went a bit rocky and the Motown years remained with me as the Epic years passed me by. I was fortunate enough though, and eternally grateful now, that I made the trip to Indigo2 earlier this year to see and hear Teena live: Incredible doesn't cover it. She knew her audience; it was made up mostly of people like me, those who had switched onto her during her early Motown years. Whilst the latest album Congo Square did hark back to her earlier, soulful roots, she concentrated on giving us everything she had on those songs most synonymous with her: Fire and Desire; Portuguese Love; I Need Your Lovin' to name just a few. And her voice was just as stunning live, thirty years later.

I'm not particularly religious, but Teena was devout - so God Bless you Teena, and your family, and may you rest in peace, forever missed but leaving us all the richer for having shared your beautiful music.