It’s hard to believe, but Teena Marie has died at the age of 54:
Teena Marie dies at 54; R&B singer-songwriter
Marie, a protege of funk singer Rick James, was one of the few white musicians to score hits on the R&B charts, with ‘I Need Your Lovin’ and ‘Lovergirl’ in the ’80s.
For those who remember, the self-proclaimed “Vanilla Child” put out some great music in the R&B world before crossing over onto the white charts in the mid-80s. Her best album in my opinion was “It Must Be Magic“, released November 12, 1982. It had songs including “Portuguese Love,” “Square Biz,” and the incomparable “Fire and Desire,” a beautiful but powerful duet with Rick James. Though she was only ”5′ 1, a hundred pounds of fun,” the woman could sing with power, soul, and a wide range.
Also of note for me is the prevalence of pure singing and the production value of the songs. Most of today’s music features computer-augmented pop stars; one can barely hear the so-called singers’ voices at all given all of the layering. Not so with “Lady T,” whose voice was front and center (because it could be). As for the production value in the studio, check out “Portuguese Love” and listen to how many percussive accents (including with voices) are blended into the music. Lush, yet structured and with perfect dynamic range.
So sail on, Vanilla Child, and thank you for your music, which was the music of the spheres.