Belated R.I.P., Teena Marie

Teena Marie (1956-2010); image courtesy of

Today at my cubicle was something of a catch-up time, not only for professional assignments but for diving into that bottomless well of new music. One why I don’t like making best-of posts — and why I avoided doing one for 2010 — is that I always forget to mention or overlook something. As much as we like to start each year fresh, remnants of the past always leave themselves to be tended to. When I talked about what I liked this year, I didn’t mention Aloe Blacc and Avey Tare’s most recent releases, which I got to late in the year but keep coming back to. I clearly slept on Lower DensTwo-Hand Movement, which is especially sad because I’m always interested in any of Jana Hunter’s musical projects. Here’s hoping I don’t spend all of next month obsessing over the new Destroyer album, though (predictably) I love what I’ve heard.

An artist whose work I unintentionally put off for years also came to my mind today. Teena Marie died suddenly the day after Christmas. Her influence as an R&B singer was known by me, but mainly because a lot of people made a big deal about how she was a white lady (did people treat Daryl Hall like he was such an anomaly?). Thanks to Jonathan Bernstein’s write-up in the Spin Alternative Record Guide, I knew she was a Rick James protégée and Starchild catapulted her onto the pop charts. And like many white girls who watched Pretty in Pink several times at slumber parties, I remember Andie Walsh asking Blane McDonough if she liked her music to strike up conversation when he cruised into the record store she worked at.

I don't think you should dance with either of them, Andie, but I think Ducky might have been more of a fan of Teena Marie than Blane. He's certainly an Otis Redding fan; image courtesy of

Anyway, I kind of took a hiatus for a few days and didn’t take the time to do any research on her. So I spent some of the morning listening to this funky lady who had an amazing voice. Regrettably, I can’t embed a lot of clips from YouTube, but digging through them is its own treasure trove. I’m still entertaining recommendations on where to start following her career, but I’m sad her untimely death finally got me around to listening. Wish I got to you sooner. 


  1. Kathy

    I’m of that generation (okay, maybe the “kid sister” end of Gen-x) to have heard Teena Marie’s music on the radio, but the only song of hers I was really familiar with was “Lovergirl,” probably her biggest hit, and not entirely representative of her catalog. She had a fantastic R&B voice and was, I think after that song, a little written off as a pop singer. I’ll have to dig into her back catalog now.

    • Alyx Vesey

      I like your distinction of being the “kid sister” end of Gen-X, Kathy. I’m definitely going to be digging back now. R.I.P.

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