The R&B singer responsible for such risqué hits as “Lovergirl” and “Ooh La La” passed away on Sunday at her home in Pasadena, Calif., at the age of 54, apparently of natural causes. Now many of music’s biggest names are paying tribute to the singer whose voice has been said to have “launched a thousand babies.”
In 1976, Teena Marie was signed to the illustrious Motown label after being discovered by Rick James, who developed a personal as well as business relationship with the singer. At one time, Teena Marie shared the stage with both Rick James and Prince for their Fire It Up and Dirty Mind tours, and her ability to swagger with the best of them won her many adoring fans.
After the news of her passing hit, musicians such as Lenny Kravitz, Missy Elliot, and A Tribe Called Quest’s MC Q-Tip all tweeted their tributes to the late soul singer. “I just want to send all my love and respect out to the family and I just want to say Teena Marie was a treasure, was a genius,” Kravitz wrote. “Composer, arranger, singer, musician, unique, underrated by far.”
Gene Rumsey, chief label officer of Marie's last label, Concord Music Group, said of the singer in a statement, “The enduring influence of Teena's inspirational, trailblazing career could only have been made possible through her brilliant songwriting, showmanship and high-energy passion, which laid the groundwork for the future generations of R&B, hip-hop, and soul.”