R.I.P. Teena Marie (March 5, 1956 – December 26, 2010)

According to CNN, R&B singer-songwriter Teena Marie apparently died in her sleep at her California home, and was discovered by her daughter on Sunday, December 26. According to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, an autopsy will be performed today. It was not immediately clear when the results would be available, but the coroner’s office said it hopes to have the autopsy completed on Tuesday.

Teena Marie was born Mary Christine Brockert, and grew up in Venice, California. She signed with Motown records in 1976 after she auditioned for the label honcho, Berry Gordy. She was spotted by Rick James and guitarist Paul C Saenz who became her mentors. She had some hits with Motown, such as “I’m Just a Sucker for Your Love” (a duet with Rick James), “Behind The Groove“, “I Need Your Lovin’“, “Fire and Desire” (another duet with James), “Square Biz“, “Portuguese Love“, and “It Must be Magic“.

In 1982, Marie got into a heated legal battle with Motown records over her contract and disagreements about releasing her new material. After leaving Motown, she signed with Epic Records. She had several more hits, including her biggest selling album, 1984’s Starchild. The album contained the hit single “Lovergirl“, which peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in March of 1985. She also recorded the song “14k“, which was featured in the Goonies movie. She also recorded another song for a soundtrack – “Lead Me On” from the movie Top Gun. In the fall of 1990, Marie released the album Ivory. Epic wasn’t happy with the album sales, so Marie and Epic agreed to go their separate ways. Teena Marie slowed down a little bit after that, and took time to raise her daughter Alia Rose. But she had a major comeback in 2004 with her album La Doña, and her follow-up Sapphire, in 2006. Marie was nominated for a Grammy Awards 2005 for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “Still in Love“.

This past year Marie was a headliner in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Hilton and other venues.

“I am horrified by the sudden death of my darling Teena Marie,” Motown founder Berry Gordy said in a statement sent by his publicist. “She was my ‘baby,’ always true to herself, always true to her heart.”

Berry called her a “powerhouse performer, writer, producer and arranger.”

“When I first auditioned her she was so awesome she blew me away,” Gordy said. “She had so much soul — the only thing white about her was her skin.”

Here is Teena Marie’s hit “Lovergirl”:

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