Monday, December 27, 2010

Soul Legend Teena Marie (Mary Christine Brockhert) Passes Away

Mary Christine Brockhert (Teena Marie)
The Ivory Queen of Soul

One of the greatest Soul singers of all-time, certainly among women. She easily fits into the top 10 women of all-time in Soul. Although I didn't care much for her bend towards Rap/Hip Hop in recent years. A genius, talented beyond measure. Her impact may never be fully appreciated. "The Brockert Initiative" alone (the Federal law setting precedent for protecting artists from record companies- freeing artists from labels abusing their contracts) puts her in a unique place in history.

Her music was part of the soundtrack to my childhood. A relative exposed me to her work back in the mid 80's. I didn't know until sometime later that she was white....and in the end, it didn't matter. She was a staple...both in our home and on those long 8, 12, 15+ hour road trips that my father seemed to love so much. She never quite got the level of recognition that matched her talent. She'll be in good company in that department.... Donny Hathaway, Chick Webb, Phyllis Hyman, Minnie Riperton, Grant Green & Curtis Mayfield immediately come to mind.


Truthiz said...

The truth is, I was absolutely floored hearing the news this morning :(

This woman, this Artist, possessed Real talent! There was nothing manufactured about her music and her delivery IMO was always Outstanding. Even the songs I didn't care for never stopped me from giving her props for her artistry.

(sidenote): I'm not sure why her death is listed as due to "natural causes"??? She was only 54!

Nonetheless, may she RIP.

rikyrah said...

when you heard her, it was that eternal argument..

'uh way she's White'.

until you saw the picture.

she was far too young.

may she RIP and prayers to the family.

Prosey said...

Rumors floated about her having had seizures and being found dead on the scene by her daughter...I haven't looked to find if there was any confirmation. Has anyone heard? She was supposed to perform here in Atlanta New Year's Eve...

...while I won't say that I was a "huge" fan, I was impressed with her talent, and am saddened that our world has lost someone so richly talented, and so prematurely. RIP Teena M.

2 Roses In The Mudd said...

I was taken aback by the news. I absolutely love Teena Marie. She never got the recognition she deserved, but her music touched the right people, and she will live on.

The Angry Independent said...

Prosey, as you may know now... she was discovered deceased by her 19 year old daughter.

It was frustrating to see an artist like this, so boxed (although she apparently didn't mind or didn't feel that way). The constraints on her image, and her career in general reflected the social segregation that has remained in this Country (in the background, often as the elephant in the room).

When you examine Teena Marie's career and her sound as a whole, it is much more broad in terms of taste than the media would have you believe. She covered Rock, Pop, Jazz, & Soul, in addition to writing, producing, and mentoring. The label of Soul or "R&B" can put an artist into a box that they may not be able to escape. I don't care for the labeling...(although in some cases categories serve a purpose). I just know good music.

Here you have an artist who was every bit as talented vocally as Streisand & in my view, even better, yet she didn't get the kind of success that Streisand received in terms of huge sales and wide acceptance. And this is largely because this Country still puts barriers up dividing everything. Social/racial segregation still exists, although the forced kind was made illegal long ago. It was a result of Teena Marie being trapped in the R&B box. I sometimes wonder if that did more harm than good. Didn't matter to her though, because she loved her fans.

I just wonder how much more recognition she could have gotten had she been judged strictly on talent by ALL of opposed to being fully embraced by only a segment of the population. Her connection to James & to the "Black Community" made the rest of the Country hesitant about embracing her.

Luckily Teena Marie will have what I will call an ascendant legacy... where she will be huge after death. This doesn't happen very often, but it was the case for Donny Hathaway, Minnie Riperton, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Laura Nyro, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, .... all ascendant legacies. Most bigger in death than in life. Most artist legacies will ascend for a moment after death, then level off... or even fade...even some of the huge names like Marvin Gaye and Elvis... they have leveled, (although high because of their impact..but the point is...those legacies are level). But artists with ascendant legacies see interest skyrocket...and it stays that way for years and years. Even M. Jackson's legacy will level over the next decade or so (because it was already high... he was so huge that he already hit a peak during his life), while at the same time, people like Bob Marley, John Lennon, Hendrix, and Donny Hathaway will continue to be high. Instead of fading, their legend grows over time. Teena Marie is one of those artists.

A ton of people were not aware of who she was...and as more people hear & discover her...and as more people have that WTH moment, her legacy will rise. And she may have a steep climb too.... (hopefully).

But it is a shame that artists have to get recognition this way. They should get the recognition while they are still here. The social barriers...the racial and class hurdles in American society are at the heart of the problem, at least in this case.