Motown diva Teena Marie dies aged 54

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The Independent Culture

The R&B singer and songwriter Teena Marie, best known for the hit 1980s singles "Lovergirl" and "Ooo La La La", died at her home in Los Angeles on Boxing Day. She was 54.

Teena Marie, whose real name was Mary Brockert, was one of the few white performers to enjoy crossover success on America's black music charts.

A protegée of the funk singer Rick James, she signed with Motown Records in 1975 and released her first album four years later. That album, which was mostly written by James, led fans to believe that Teena Marie was black since it did not feature a picture of her. Her duet with James on "I'm a Sucker For You" peaked at No 8 on Billboard's Black Singles chart. I've always been accepted by the black community and I think that's a beautiful thing," Teena Marie told Jet magazine in 2006. She released 13 albums up to 2009's Congo Square.

Teena Marie's career had been on the upswing since 2004 when she signed with a New Orleans rap label and released her first album in a decade. La Dona peaked at No 6 on the Billboard 200, the first time she had ever cracked the Top 20. A song from the album, "Still in Love", took her on to the Hot 100 singles chart for the first time since 1988.

The cause of death was not known, but her friend, the percussionist Sheila E, reported on Twitter that Teena Marie had had a history of seizures.