It hit me like a slow bullet. Kind of like the announcement of Michael Jackson’s death. But this one was a bit harder in some ways. This one’s personal. When I heard late yesterday, after a day of relaxation that one of my personal, musical icons, Teena Marie (aka: Mary Christine Brockert, Lady T, Vanilla Child, etc.) was dead, I scarely believed it. And I still don’t.
Teena was in essence, one of the best vocalists and lyricists out there. Period. In my humble opinion, these young girls out here today (Rihanna, Beyonce, Keisha, and all the rest- yes I said it) couldn’t hold a candle to Tee in her prime up until her last album “Congo Square”. It was that combination that has held me spellbound since I was 12 years old, listening to her records in a snowy town in upstate, New York, belting out almost every song on her 1981 “It Must Be Magic”. I have since collected every album with the exception of “Wild and Peaceful”, her first which was produced by the late funk legend, Rick James. A matter of fact, I have more of her CDs than any other musician in my collection. Yup, it was that deep for me.
I had the priviledge of watching her perform live at four concerts, my first being in Atlanta and the last at the Birchemere in Alexandria, Virginia in August of 2009. This last concert was one of the most interesting ones and very special. Prior to it, I “tweeted” about how excited I was to attend just to be honored with a return tweet from Lady T herself, stating how much she loved the venue and looked forward to performing an intimate acoustic set at the concert. Like, what celebrity does that these days?
I will always remember that particular concert fondly because for the first time she opened up about her relationship with Rick James and shared stories between sets about her various adventures with the King of Punk Funk, some I knew about but a lot I didn’t.
I learned fairly recently that Teena was also a visual artist and enjoyed drawing and painting. In one of her last tweets, Teena shares that she started a foundation “A Time to Paint” which donates art supplies to children to encourage creativity. I was especially moved by that.
A part of my teenage and young adulthood was lost as of the confirmed announcement yesterday. Lady T, thanks for sharing your “magic” with us for so many years. Say a big hello to Rick for me and let him know I miss him too.
“Memories past but not forgotten.
The dye is cast – soon ripe – soon rotten
“Ars Longa Vita Brevis – Art is long and Life is short”
My euphonic heartache, do I brag, complain or sport
I have done some things I swore I’d never do
A credo assimilated and not believed
Life has robbed me of my innocense
And yes confection surely drips
From the mouths of vermin lips…an intrinsic facade
I’ve been icey cold, blanketing myself in lyric and eating melodies to surve
Groovin’ on the chitlin’s circuit and diggin’ the so called dives
Trying to make things tasty
That reallly are quite bland
“Now is the winter of my discontent”
For in fact it is not that grand
It is not enough to say you care
You’ve to spread the word – have you heard
Jesus he was just a man – the Bible tells us so
He gave more than just his hands and he never said no.”
– From It Must Be Magic, by Teena Marie, Copyright 1981
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