Teena Marie (born Mary Christine Brockert on March 5, 1956 in Santa Monica, California) is an American singer/songwriter/producer. "Lady T" is a protegĂ© of late funk legend Rick James, and is notable as one of the few successful Caucasian R&B performers, currently the reputed queen of blue-eyed soul.
After signing with Motown Records in 1976 as a backup singer, Teena hooked up with James for her first album titled Wild and Peaceful, released in 1979. Legend has had it that thanks to James' refusal to work with Motown diva Diana Ross, Teena Marie found her first successes with the songs "I'm A Sucker For Your Love" and "Deja Vu (I've Been Here Before)."
After James' initial guidance, Teena Marie opened the 1980s by producing two hit albums on her own, the 1980 gold album, Lady T (featuring the hit R&B single, "Behind the Groove") and its follow up, Irons in the Fire, (featuring her first pop hit, the Top 40 single, "I Need Your Lovin'"). In 1981, she released her best-selling album on Motown, the platinum It Must Be Magic. It yielded the hit songs, "Square Biz" (one of the most sampled singles in music history; it was also used as the theme song for the 1998-2004 version of the game show Hollywood Squares in its final two seasons, as Marie rerecorded the song with new lyrics), "Portuguese Love", and the title track. That same year, she also appeared on James' hugely successful album, Street Songs, where they scored a huge hit with their duet, "Fire And Desire."
Success, however, did not mean Teena Marie was satisfied professionally or was stable financially. After learning that she didn't receive the money she had earned recording four albums for Motown, Teena Marie decided to leave that label and later sued it for having restricted her artistic control. A law was passed as a result, The Brockert Initiative, popularly known as "The Teena Marie Law", which set a precedent for artists seeking control of their careers.
After Teena Marie left Motown in 1982, she signed with Epic Records and released the concept album Robbery in 1983, which featured the singles, "Shadow Boxing" and "Casanova Brown." The latter was allegedly about her real-life romance with mentor Rick James. In 1984, Teena Marie released her biggest-selling album, Starchild. It yielded the top 10 pop hit, "Lovergirl" and the top 5 R&B single, "Out On A Limb".
In 1986, Teena Marie released a rock and roll concept album titled Emerald City. It wasn't as successful as her predecessors and in 1988 she returned to her R&B and funk roots releasing the platinum album, Naked to the World. That album contained her only #1 single on any Billboard chart, "Ooh La La La", which reached the top of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
After her 1990 album, Ivory, Teena Marie was dropped from her Epic Records label. She released, on an independent label, an album titled Passion Play in 1994 and then devoted most of her time to her daughter, Alia Rose. During the 1990s, Marie's classic R&B, soul and funk records were either sampled by hip-hop artists or covered by R&B divas. Teena Marie herself is seen as something of a pioneer in helping to bring hip-hop to the mainstream by becoming one of the first and only artists of her time to rap on one of her singles--the aforementioned "Square Biz," where she claimed she was as poetic as William Shakespeare, Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni. In 1996, The Fugees paid tribute to her by sampling the chorus of her 1988 hit "Ooh La La La" for their own hit, "Fu-Gee-La".