Sound Off: Readers Speak on Teena Marie the Memorable ‘Ivory Queen Of Soul’

Readers speak on some of their memories of Teena Marie.By: Taren Vaughan

Labeled as the “Ivory Queen of Soul”, R&B singer/songwriter Teena Marie had a voice that stood out amongst the rest. She emerged during a time period when a number of soulful black artists hit the scene, including her dear friend Rick James, whom she did a classic “Fire And Desire” duet with that every R&B head remembers to this day. Her 1984 song “Lovergirl” was the only pop song that got her a massive amount of airplay and award recognition. The rest of her hits were strictly R&B including “Square Biz”, “I’m A Sucker For Your Love” and “Ooo La La La”, one her many hit singles that soared to the top of the charts after its release back in 1988.

Even though she originally came out as a pop singer, Teena Marie had no problem at all finding her place in the Motown line-up of stars. She shared her talents with audiences of people of all races. And she always found a way to please all of her fans by giving them a mix of those smooth rhythm and blues tracks and those songs that just made you want to get up and dance until your body was drenched in sweat. After years of live performances and putting out hit records, her reign sadly came to an end on December 26, 2010 as the 54-year old singer reportedly died after suffering a seizure.

Teena Marie has had a great influence on the music industry and will be remembered for literally changing the face of R&B and soul music. No, Teena Marie was not the first white girl to pick up a microphone and start singing “black music”. Or get exposure on black radio and TV music shows. But she was however one of the few that could do it with perfection. And fans all over have taken the time to reveal some of their favorite moments from the late diva.

“Oh my God, Teena, Teena, Teena. That’s all I can say. This woman’s voice was so powerful and amazing. I just had to keep playing her songs over and over again. She really is a true R&B diva and will always be remembered for her raw talent.”

-Teresa W.
Age: 39
Dallas, TX

“Teena Marie is legendary and her passing is very sad as the world of R&B has lost yet another great. It’s a shame that many of our young people out here didn’t even know who she was. When it was first confirmed that she was dead, I heard a group of young girls refer to her as “Teairra Mari”, the singer that is on Jay-Z’s label. All I could do is shake my head. I feel for this generation and the fact that they don’t even know anything about true R&;B music and the people who brought it to the forefront.”

-Donald R.
Age: 40
Tallahassee, FL

“I will never forget when Teena Marie and Rick James did their famous duet of “Fire And Desire” on the BET Awards. I know we give BET a lot of slack for some of the things that they air. But this performance was one that I will always remember because that was the last time that they got to sing that song together live. R.I.P. to Rick James and Teena Marie. Thank you for bring us a lasting hit record.”

-Briana M.
Age: 27
Lithonia, GA

“If it weren’t for singers like Teena Marie, artists like Christina Aguilera would not have had their break out moments when it came to R&B music. Let’s be honest, a lot of us think that singing R&B music is a “black thing” and no white artists should even step into that territory. But as you can see, our artists have even started crossing over to the pop side of things, like Beyonce’ has done and found much success with it. So props to Teena for taking her rightful spot in a music genre that was, and always has been, heavily dominated by blacks.”

-April S.
Age: 42
Memphis, TN

“As powerful as her voice was, I think many people forget about the fact that Teena Marie could play the hell out of a guitar. Thanks to Rick James, he brought that funk out of her as an artist, still keeping her grounded to her rhythm and blues roots. I wasn’t even old enough to know about Teena Marie and her music when she first came out. But once my dad put on one of her records for me one day, I’ve been hooked ever since.”

-Michael V.
Age: 22
Buffalo, NY

“I don’t look at Teena Marie as a white woman who sung R&B music. Even up until her untimely death, I always just focused on how great her voice was. Talent is talent and she definitely had it all. It’s hard nowadays to find vocal skills like that amongst not only R&B singers, but pop singers as well. The list of incredible acts keeps getting smaller and smaller every year. Music just ain’t what it used to be.”

-Josh B.
Age: 38
San Diego, CA

“One of my favorite Teena Marie songs was by far “Square Biz”. The beat was sick and it just made you want to dance. Not to mention that the song actually had real lyrics unlike some of this garbage that is out now. I know I didn’t grow up in the ‘80’s but I am a music fanatic and listen to all types of it, from old school to new school. And let me just say that she still had one of the best voices that I have ever heard, hands down.”

-Mario H.
Age: 23
Baltimore, MD

“It’s nice to see other music acts pay homage to Teena Marie after her passing. I saw some of the comments that were made about her and her career as a singer and songwriter. A lot of times people forget to acknowledge those that came before them which I think is out of order. How can you not show love to the very same people who made it possible for you to make your dreams come true? Anyway, I will always remember her for unique style and creative energy that she brought us through her music.”

-Kayla J.
Age: 19
Austin, TX

How will you remember the “Ivory Queen Of Soul”?

1 comment

  1. The color of one's skin should never ever define their place in the music industry. The pipes defines the prowess in the world of music. Labels will always be, but music, singing, song~writing, and all that music encompasses surely is a gift to those of us who see no color in music and appreciate instruments, words over sounds. We hear sounds that please the soul, get us thru troubled times and heals us thru melodies. Man, I loved Teena Marie, yet never met her. I feel like I know her thru her music. I saw her in Baltimore many many years ago and the show brought stars from NY, Philly & LA, she was phenomenal!! She was and remains an incomparable gift to the world of music, and simply to the world. We will miss you Lady T, and may your family take comfort in the Almighty as he promises to rid our lives of the sting of death! YES INDEED…

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