Teena Marie Beautiful

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I remember the first time I heard Teena Marie, it was the summer of 86 and I had a nice summer job.  Without going into details of the job, it was in a small kitchen, and I used to bring tapes in to play.  Anyway one Monday, I brought in a Motown compilation cassette that I had purchased at Woolworths.  

After the usual suspects Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, The Temptations and such like Artists,  who I still adore and listen to, a funky upbeat hypothetic track came on with this piercing melodic soulful vocal, which did take me to Xanadu and Behind The Groove,  as the title of the track suggested. I sure had a good dance amongst the pots and pans that morning.

Teena Marie AKA Lady Tee sadly passed away on Boxing Day 2010, aged 54 from natural causes, and the world of music had lost a truly great singer.  Originally signed to Motown by Berry Gordy in 1976 aged 20,  but her debut single and album wasn’t released until 1979, and for Marie they must have been three frustrating years for Lady Tee  (real name Mary Christine Brockert ) bound by contract and unable to release any material.  However the wait was worth it, as the Ivory Queen of Soul quickly made an impact on the US R ‘n’ B and mainstream charts,  with her crisp, melodic, moving and soulful voice.

The legacy of Teena Maria is certainly not forgotten, as 2013 saw the release of Beautiful.  A collection of recordings made by Teena at her home studio, and compiled by her daughter Alia Rose.  In addition what Rose has produced is a fitting tribute to her mother, and a moving gesture no doubt.

Beautiful is a spectacular expedition into laid back and funky grooves, with a soulful, jazz and Latino feel.  Not having heard Teena Marie’s voice for several years, it dawned on me how her vocal help to influence and pioneer the new breed of American and UK mainly black R ‘n’ B girl artists from En Vogue to the present. Teena Maria draws you into the music, in a poignant and sensitive voice with a collection of songs that you lose in the music.  The production is thrilling and bold, from mellow string hook to funky keyboards, the album is the perfect soundtrack for the summer vibe and a feeling of optimism and beauty, no wonder Alia Rose called the album Beautiful, because that is the best description by far.

© Words Matteo Sedazzari

Read 3242 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:15
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