Mary Christine Brockert was born in Santa Monica and began performing at a very young age, appearing as a tap dancer an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies when she was only eight years old. Marie was signed to Motown by Berry Gordy when she was 19, though no music was released for nearly three years while they figured out what kind of material to give her. "One day [Rick James] was walking down the hall and I was sitting in Stevie Wonder's office," Marie recalled in a 2009 interview. "I would always be in there playing his piano and singing. Rick popped his head in there and we started having a conversation and after that we just became really close friends." (Rolling Stone)A number of nice tributes rolled in yesterday, and this from a Jezebel commenter, was particularly touching:
Interestingly, as a young black girl in a very white town in the Pacific Northwest, it was through Teena's lyrics that I first heard of Nikki Giovanni - whom I grew to love as a teen.*
Her voice was magical, and she will be missed. My thoughts go out to her daughter who, tragically, found her.
*The lyric from "Square Biz" is "...I like spirituals and rock, Sarah Vaughn, Johann Sebastian Bach. Shakespeare, Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni, just to name a few..."