Interviews: ‘UB Honors’ The Legendary Teena Marie

UrbanBridgez.com was set to start our special anniversary feature today, however yesterday (December 26) we all lost one of our legendary soul singers…Ms Teena Marie (Lady T)!

Today we pay tribute to without a doubt one of our absolute favorites here at UrbanBridgez.com by re-posting her last interview with us and some of her classic music for you to stream as you read. A true legend & one of the best female recording artist of our time!

There have been so many artists I’ve seen in my lifetime but no one like Teena Marie. She was the ambitious girl who wanted it all while working hard just to be heard. This is where our connection lies. I had a chance to interview Teena Marie in May 2006, 9 months after the shocking loss of her friend and mentor Rick James. Teena was putting her life back in order and promoting her then new album, Sapphire. She opened up about how Rick James inspired her songs, being given a lifetime ghetto pass, what black music means to her, her daughter (Alia Rose) and working with legendary Motown artist Smokey Robinson.

Teena was one of the most down to earth women I ever spoke to. Her picking up the pieces after tragedy was an inspiration to me and it furthered my appreciation for her not only as an artist, but a human being.

Take a moment to revisit this popular interview and her last one done with UrbanBridgez.com

– Dhaani (CJ)

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UrbanBridgez.com: Tell your fans about Sapphire and what you want them to get out of the project.
Teena Marie: I think they’re really going to be able to feel the Rick [James] and Teena influence; Um, it felt like he was writing some of the songs with me; I was really in a lot of pain when he passed and I’m just so thankful that I have that outlet and God gave that gift to go into myself and write my way out of my pain. It helped a lot and there were a lot of times I felt like he [Rick] was right there beside me writing with me and I think the fans will be able to hear of lot of that in some of the songs.
[audio:http://urbanbridgez.com/ubgblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Tina-Marie-Square-Biz.mp3|titles=Square Biz]

UrbanBridgez.com: What was the hardest part recording Sapphire?
Teena Marie: Probably that; losing him and just having to keep on pressing on and just stay true to myself as an artist. Yeah, I would think that would be it; just keep going and going not feeding into the pain and how I was feeling about him being gone.

[audio:http://urbanbridgez.com/ubgblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Rick-James-Teena-Marie-Fire-and-Desire.mp3|titles=Fire and Desire w/ Rick James]
UrbanBridgez.com: You worked with a lot of different artists for this album, how did you choose the collaborations?
Teena Marie: Well I chose Smokey [Robinson] because he’s my idol. I grew up listening to him and I pan my songwriting career after him. I studied his songs and he’s such a great love poet that it’s what I really wanted to do with my music as well. I wanted to touch people and make them feel love and to me Smokey was just that for me. We’ve known each other for years and this was the first time we actually got to go in the studio together and work, it was amazing! I was a little intimidated because I was producing the record but he’s just so wonderful, so gracious, and such a brilliant man. I played him the song one time and he smiled; I was like you want me to play it again, you want me to play it on the guitar, he was like “no I got it”. He did and it was amazing; because of his influence in my career I wonder why we didn’t sing together a long time ago because our voices really compliment each other. Have you heard the track yet?
[audio:http://urbanbridgez.com/ubgblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/05LoversLane.mp3|titles=Lovers Lane]

UrbanBridgez.com: Gosh, that sounds so amazin’.
Teena Marie: Have you heard the track yet?

UrbanBridgez.com: I have heard the song with Smokey Robinson and my dad at first listen was overjoyed with it.
Teena Marie: So you did hear it, oh good! Well that’s awesome but I guess you can see what I’m saying?
[audio:http://urbanbridgez.com/ubgblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/10_-_Teena_Marie_-_Lovergirl_.mp3|titles=Lovergirl]

UrbanBridgez.com: Oh yes!
Teena Marie: First we did Cruise Control and then we did What God Has Created; he was getting ready to leave and I was like “no, no, no, you can’t leave yet!” There’s a little piece attached to this at the beginning of the album, it’s like a prayer and I told him he had to hear it. When he heard it, he looked up at me and grinned. He was like “yeah, this is me right here!” So it thrilled me and it was really nice. I also got to work with Kurupt from the Dogg Pound, who’s a really good friend of mine. I have younger people around me who call me “Mama Tina” so um I called him up and asked him to come over and he did right away. I actually wrote the rap myself and he liked it so much and he said he didn’t want to change it. What I did was I sung while he spoke it. My daughter sang with me on the last cut on the album Resilient (Sapphire) that was written for Hurricane Katrina and that was wonderful. It felt so good having the ability to sing in harmony with my daughter, know what I’m saying?
[audio:http://urbanbridgez.com/ubgblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Teena_Marie_-_My_Dear_Mr_Gaye.mp3|titles=My Dear, Mr Gaye]

UrbanBridgez.com: Yeah, she sounds so beautiful.
Teena Marie: Whether or not she chooses to do this as a career it doesn’t even matter to me it’s just being able to go in the studio to sing harmony with your child it’s really an amazing joy that I can’t even explain. She did most of the backgrounds with me on the entire album, so that’s pretty awesome because I have a little mini me. When we sing parts together you really can’t tell us apart kind of like how emotions were. When you hear that family harmony it’s just a blend that you can’t really get anywhere else. I have that with my best friend Mickey, who sounds like my sister when we sing together. So it’s wonderful and my little sister Jill also. I also have Lady Levi, who’s done a lot of stuff with Dr. Dre did the reggae cut with me, Simmer Down. She always brings a real exciting thing to what we do. It’s like a family thing.

UrbanBridgez.com: As a songwriter, what inspires you to write? Does something have to happen to you to be in the mood to write a song, how do you normally do it?
Teena Marie: Songs are sent to me, you know. Sometimes there are no songs at all and when that happens I don’t try to force it. Sometimes a wave of inspiration just comes through and I write for a week or two. Then it goes away, when it goes I just let it go. I used to force it when I was younger but then I came to realize early on that it was divine. So I just wait until the time comes.
[audio:http://urbanbridgez.com/ubgblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Teena-Marie-Portuguese-Love.mp3|titles=Portuguese Love]

UrbanBridgez.com: Now if you could do another duet on your next album per se, would you work with a female great or someone from the younger generation?
Teena Marie: I would love to. I tried to put something together on the last record. A demo singer Dee O’Neal came in and she sang the song so tough that it was like I’m leaving her on here. She really, really brought it on the song from the last album called, I Love Him Too. But yeah, there are a few people I wouldn’t mind working with. Mary and I have talked about doing some stuff together before; Faith Evans, who just has a beautiful beautiful voice and you know… I love Alicia Keys and Keyshia Cole, but I don’t know how we would sound together because her voice is rawer than mine.

UrbanBridgez.com: Yeah, and I think the music industry, especially the R&B ladies, I think a lot of them need to have a sense of togetherness. Saying “Hey, I got your back.”
Teena Marie: Oh I do too. I agree with you!
[audio:http://urbanbridgez.com/ubgblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/04OooLaLaLa1.mp3|titles=OooLaLaLa]

UrbanBridgez.com: Because it’s so much pitting artist against each other and I’m like for what, there’s room for everybody.
Teena Marie: It’s so true and I’ve always said that. We should be more supportive of each other.

UrbanBridgez.com: So what’s the next single going to be on Sapphire?
Teena Marie: I don’t know because the record just came out last week (May 9th); but it looks like “Ooh Wee” still has some longevity going on and that’s what’s great about AC radio because tracks last longer than mainstream. I’m not sure but I think radio might choose the next one, the record is out now. We’ll probably see or hear what people think, but so far I’ve been hearing a lot about Cruise Control. I wouldn’t mind having a record with my guy [Smokey] that I love so much.

UrbanBridgez.com: Do you have a favorite song by a popular artist out now?
Teena Marie: Um, my favorite song right now probably is Love, by Keyshia Cole. Yeah, that’s probably my favorite song. The other one is an up-tempo by Christina Milian.
[audio:http://urbanbridgez.com/ubgblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/If-I-Were-a-Bell.mp3|titles=If I Were a Bell]

UrbanBridgez.com: Say I?
Teena Marie: Yeah, Say I.

UrbanBridgez.com: Since June is Black Music Month, what has Soul and R&B music meant to you throughout your career?
Teena Marie: It’s been my whole life. I remember being told a story about taking me to church when I was two years old attending a Catholic church and the priest was chanting in Latin (chants in Latin). I jumped up and sang “Day….Daaaay O! Daylight come and me want to go home!” That’s pretty amazing for a two year old singing about a black man tallying up some bananas in the islands. To me, that just says the chant came from somewhere else; you know what I’m saying? I’m guessing it was just the beginning to my destiny. I really appreciate the fact all these years black people as well as black radio has embraced me the way they have. You know they gave me a ghetto pass! I thought that was so funny to me, I said this is so cool! Teena Marie has a lifetime ghetto pass! (laughs)

UrbanBridgez.com: Now one artist who I think who would probably love to work with you is Christina Aguilera, do you listen to any of her material?
Teena Marie: I love Christina Aguilera, yeah I do. I love Mariah Carey, all the great singers out there. I have to walk outside because they’re working on my house; let me walk to the next room. Can you hear me now, Can you hear me now. Lord I sound like Alicia [Keys] (laughs).

UrbanBridgez.com: So will you be doing any tours this summer?
Teena Marie: I’m going out the end of this month; my first show is on the Tom Joyner cruise.

UrbanBridgez.com: Tom Joyner cruise…oooh!
Teena Marie: Yeah, in the islands. After that I’ll be touring the states.

UrbanBridgez.com: So what’s going to be up for you over the next year?
Teena Marie: I’m actually writing already; I’ve been working on a jazz album and I’ve been working on inspirational music. So between that and the touring I’m getting ready to do, I’ll be raising my daughter which is really an ongoing job; raising a 14-year-old that’s enough to keep me busy for a while!
[audio:http://urbanbridgez.com/ubgblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Teena-Marie-Ft-Gerald-Levert-A-Rose-By-Any-Other-Name.mp3|titles=A Rose By Any Other Name feat. Gerald Levert ]

UrbanBridgez.com: Say if your daughter went to the music industry, would there be any advice you’d give her?
Teena Marie: It’s funny, she’s really smart. When she sang on my record she was 13 and she’s 14 now; she really doesn’t want to come out with a record for another couple of years. So she’s kind of smart and all she wants to be is a normal kid, you know? She’s boy crazy and she’s a good kid but she’s really smart and I’ll be right beside her every step of the way.

UrbanBridgez.com: I know you’re a very busy woman and I didn’t want to keep you too long, do you have any last words for your fans?
Teena Marie: I’m just really thankful and grateful that after …let’s see what this 20, 27 years in the music business after I came out with my first album in ’79 that people still love me and it’s such a wonderful thing to be doing something that you love. Thanks to my daughter and friends, music has been my greatest joy. So I’m just appreciative that people still love me.
[audio:http://urbanbridgez.com/ubgblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Teena-Marie-Feat.-Faith-Evans-Can_t-Last-A-Day-djweetart.com_.mp3|titles=Can’t Last A Day feat. Faith Evans ]

UrbanBridgez.com: That’s very nice. I think artists need to hear the word “Thank You” instead of expecting so much out of them.
Teena Marie: Oh, I’m very thankful. It’s a blessing everyday.

UrbanBridgez.com: Thank you Ms. Teena for talking to UrbanBridgez.com we all love you and appreciate everything you do.

UrbanBridgez.com Would Like to Send Our Condolences to The Family, Friends & Fans of Lady T…Teena Marie!

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