According to her publicist,
a month ago the singer-songwriter-producer reportedly suffered a grand
mal seizure, a neurological event marked by a loss of consciousness and
violent muscle contractions. “Luckily, someone was there,” Jeter told
CNN. “The ambulance took her to the hospital, and on the way she had
another seizure.” However, she was believed to be feeling better and
preparing for a show this week in
As was something of a tradition — for her to play
suspecting soul audiences at the time might reject the budding ingenue
if they knew she was white, chose not to include a picture of her on
Yet Marie, also known to fans as Lady T (after her
1980 album of the same name), was among the first non-African American
artists to routinely chart high on the R&B charts, something that
has become more common in this era of
“Teena was a black voice trapped in a white body,”
By the end of the ’80s, having topped the R&B
countdown with “Ooo La La La” and nearly done the same on Billboard’s
all-inclusive pop chart with the 1984 smash “Lovergirl,” which reached
No. 4, the sexpot-with-chops had helped pave the way for the likes of
both lasting pop icons like
With her third disc, “Irons in the Fire” (also from
1980), Marie, already adept at guitar and keyboards, began to write and
produce her albums herself, scoring again with “Portuguese Love,” from
1981’s “It Must Be Magic.”
The next year, she wound up in a heated legal battle with Motown honcho
resulting in what’s called “The Brockert Initiative,” making it illegal
for a record company to keep an artist under contract without issuing
new material. Artists held back by such ploys would be able to sign and
release with another label.
“It wasn’t something I set out to do,” she said of
the ruling at the time. “I just wanted to get away from Motown and have
a good life. But it helped a lot of people, like
She would go on to record for various labels,
including Epic, Cash Money Classics and famed Southern haven Stax,
which issued her lengthy, guest-laden final album, “
Friends and collaborators were quick to offer condolences.
“The enduring influence of Teena’s inspirational,
trailblazing career could only have been made possible through her
brilliant songwriting, showmanship and high-energy passion, which laid
the groundwork for the future generations of R&B, hip-hop and
“We’re shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden loss of
legendary Philly soul producers Gamble & Huff said in a statement.
“She was one of the most memorable, soulful and unique R&B
vocalists to come out of Motown.”
both as a singer and mother. “There are a lot of black people who swore
by her and believed in her, as far as her music was concerned,” he told
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