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“Little Short Munchkin White Girl”

December 27, 2010

That’s how Rick James described Teena Marie, who died yesterday at the young age of 54.

From The Guardian:

As Tina Marie Brockert, she entered show business with an acting role, in 1964, in the television sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. At the age of 20, Teena Marie auditioned for Motown Records, which had moved its centre of operations from Detroit to Los Angeles. Gordy, Motown’s owner, signed her to a recording contract, but it was three years before he found the right setting for his young white singer. The catalyst was the guitarist, producer and singer Rick James, who told an interviewer that he had been walking around the Motown building when, “I heard this girl singing her ass off. I walked in and here’s this little short munchkin white girl. I said, ‘Wow you’re really great. Are you on Motown?'” The result of their collaboration was Marie’s 1979 debut album, Wild and Peaceful, which included I’m a Sucker for Your Love, a duet between James and Marie, which reached the Top 10 of the R&B chart in the US. Perhaps intentionally, the cover of the album did not feature a photograph of the singer, whom most DJs assumed must be African American.

In 1982, Gordy rejected Marie’s newest recordings and refused to release them. The singer triumphed in an ensuing courtroom battle when a judge ruled that Motown could not keep an artist under contract without issuing new recordings by her. She later reflected that “every good artist needs a lawsuit”.

Sad news. Rest in Peace, and I belatedly apologize for every time I confused her with Kelly Marie.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 29, 2010 12:16 pm

    I didn’t hear about this. R.I.P. Teena Marie.

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