The Grammy-nominated American soul singer Teena Marie has
been found dead at her California home at the age of 54, her manager has said.
Teena Marie often worked with funk legend Rick James with
hits such as Lovergirl and Fire and Desire.
Teena Marie, who was born Mary Christine Brockert and
also used the moniker Lady T, was a rare white artist on the Motown label when
she was signed in the late 1970s.
She won four Grammy nominations.
Publicist Jasmine Vega and manager Mike Gardner confirmed
Mr Gardner said Teena Marie had apparently died in her
sleep at her home and was found by her daughter.
When she signed to Motown, it was reportedly worried of a
fan backlash to the white star and her image did not appear on her first album
for the label, Wild and Peaceful.
Her second album carried her photograph after fears of a
rejection by fans proved unfounded.
She became hugely respected by the black audience and was
dubbed the “ivory queen of soul”.”
“I’m a black artist with white skin. At the end of
the day you have to sing what’s in your own soul,” she said in a 2009
The singer left Motown in 1982 and six years later scored
her only US R&B chart number one hit single Ooo La La La, elements of which
appeared in the Fugees song entitled Fu-Gee-La a decade later.
Teena Marie returned to the spotlight with a comeback
album in 2004, and and landed one of her Grammy nominations a year later in the
best R&B female vocal performance category.
In an interview with the Associated Press last year, the
performer said that she had beaten an addiction to prescription drugs and was
going on tour to support Congo Square, which was to become her last album.
It reached the top 20 on the US album chart.
In the UK, her biggest hit single came in 1980 with
Behind The Groove, which reached number six.