Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This is what all the fuss is about: "If I Were a Bell", by Teena Marie (Live performance, music video)

Ivory (Teena Marie album) I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that "Ivory Queen of Soul" Teena Marie is no longer with us. Some of you younger folks may not understand what all the fuss is about. Marie had several hits back in the early 80's. She was one of the first white performers signed by Berry Gordie's legendary label, Motown Records. They didn't really know what to do with the 5'1" powerhouse, even though she was immensely popular with the black community. Her collaborations with Rick James were musical magic.

Musical tastes were changing at the time, from 70's R&B and Soul to the 80's sound of acts like Prince, Michael Jackson and the Pointer Sisters, but Lady Tee stuck to what she did best. Motown withheld her music from release and she eventually had to sue the company to get out of her contract and in doing so changed the way record companies could legally do business with their talent.

Back when I was living in the DC area, I used to listen to the radio at night to help me unwind. Teena Marie sang me to sleep many nights, courtesy of KISS-FM's Donnie Simpson, who would later go on the host his own show, "Video Soul", on BET. This clip comes from 1990, when Teena was a guest on his show promoting her latest album and she just blew me ~ and everybody else ~ away. This is what all the fuss is about.

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