Teena Marie (born Mary Christine Brockert on March 51956) is an R&B singer/songwriter/producer. She is a protegé of late funk legend Rick James, and is notable as one of the few successful Caucasian R&B performers.
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 refusing to work with Motown diva Diana Ross, Marie found her first successes with songs like "I'm A Sucka For Your Love" and "Deja Vu (I've Been Here Before)" to name a few.
After the initial guidance of James, Marie decided to produce her own albums starting with the 1980 gold album, Lady T (her nickname; and of which yielded the hit single "Behind the Groove") and following with Irons in the Fire (which featured her first pop Top 40 single, "I Need Your Lovin'"). In 1981, she released her best-selling album on Motown titled It Must Be Magic. Yielding 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), "Portuguese Love", and the title track, the album became her first platinum success. She also scored her most notable hit alongside her old mentor Rick James that same year, with their duet, "Fire And Desire", off James' hugely successful 1981 album, Street Songs.
However, success did not mean Marie was satisfied or was stable financially. After learning that she didn't receive the money she had earned recording four albums for Motown, Marie decided to leave that label and later sued it for having restricted her artistic control. A law was made as a result, The Brockert Initiative, popularly known as "The Teena Marie Law", which became a precedent for artists seeking control of their careers.
After 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, Marie released her biggest-selling album, Star Child. It yielded the top 10 pop hit, "Lovergirl" and the top 5 R&B single, "Out On A Limb".
In 1986, Marie released a rock and roll concept album titled Emerald City. It wasn't as successful as her predecessors and in 1987 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 R&B Singles chart.
After her 1990 album, Ivory, 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. 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 Nikki Giovanni and Maya Angelou. 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".
After a 14-year sabbatical from the national spotlight, Marie returned to her musical career by signing with the Classics imprint of the successful 2000s hip-hop label Cash Money Records. She released her comeback album, La Dona, in 2004. It became a gold success on the basis of the Al Green-sampled "Still In Love" and a duet with Gerald Levert, "A Rose By Any Other Name". Marie was nominated for a 2005 Grammy for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance for "Still In Love".