Posts Tagged ‘Teena Marie’

Sounds Like Washington Vol. 2

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I’m so excited to present Sounds Like Washington Vol. 2 to you.  Ten years ago I compiled the first Sounds Like Washington to keep me company when I lived far away from D.C. and missed listening to the exclusive sounds of this City.  After returning home, I was inspired to create Volume 2.  Like with Volume 1, some of these songs are regularly played on D.C.’s adult contemporary radio stations, others should be.  Please enjoy these soothing sounds that go best with the Washington skyline in the distance — but will make you feel good wherever you are.

Download the 192 kbps version (108 MB) here!

Warm and Peaceful Lady T

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I was probably around 12 years old when I began a real love affair with R&B.  Suddenly, what used to be just background music spoke to me and I got it. In that moment there were two artists who really mattered to me, Luther Vandross and Teena Marie.

On December 26th 2010 we lost Teena and I felt like I lost a friend even though I never met her.  The closest I’d ever been to her was seeing her perform in 1994 at the Ritz Nightclub in D.C.  I was smack in the middle of a tightly packed standing-room only crowd.  But when she sat down behind that piano and played “Casanova Brown” I felt like I was the only one in the room.  She had the ability to be so intimate with her audience.

I tried it myself senior year of college; I performed “Casanova Brown” in a lip-sync contest with my sorority sisters acting out the words of the song behind me.  We won first place.

I also strongly considered adapting the DJ name “Warm and Peaceful Lady T” for my college radio show, a tribute to Teena’s rap in “Square Biz,” but some of my friends said it was too much.

Then there was that time I had one too many in New Orleans and thought singing “I Need Your Lovin” during karaoke night at the Black Cat would be a good idea, the video tape is proof that it wasn’t.

I’m sharing all this to say I loved Teena Marie’s music and never considered saying goodbye.  I loved the way her voice made me feel.  I loved how her lyrics made me think about love.  To really get Teena, I think one has to have loved hard… I mean really experienced passion.  As Teena sang in “Out on a Limb,”  “My lips begin to burn and my heart beats faster than the normal pace,” whooh!

She wrote about loving, caring and wanting deeply.  Her lyrics are poetry and a good lesson for any woman struggling with how to open herself to her man.

When Rick James first toured with Teena Marie back in the early 80s,  they both appeared at the Capitol Center in Landover, MD.  I was just a little girl, but I’ve heard many stories about that night from people who were there.  This was before music videos, so for many this would be their first time putting Teena’s face with the booming voice they heard sing “Fire and Desire” on the radio.  Of course Rick opens the song, so he was on stage first.  Then Teena sang, “I used to love them and leave them” from backstage, holding that amazing note as she walked to center stage.  Someone who was there that night told me a hush fell over the crowd as people watched in shock; this powerful, soulful voice was coming from this tiny, redhead white girl.  One person went on to tell me a woman sitting next to him said, “So Rick couldn’t find a “sista” to sing this song?”  It’s such a funny story to me… because wasn’t she?  Wasn’t she a “soul-sista” who felt, loved and sang with more passion than most?

Years ago I was discussing music with a white college professor.  We were talking about Motown when I mentioned Teena Marie.  He was in his early 60s and had never heard of her before.  Of course I went on to say she was one my favorite singers of all time and talked about how significant her contributions were.  He asked a very interesting question.  He said, “Why wasn’t she ever a major crossover success?  I mean isn’t it most unusual for white artists doing black music not to have great pop success…especially if they’re signed to a label like Motown?”

I’d never thought about it before, not like that.  Teena had been a part of our community for so long I think most of us forgot she was white.  My answer was this; she wasn’t Elvis, she wasn’t stealing R&B, she was R&B, there is a difference.  I think it’s an insult to call what Teena created “blue eyed soul,” as if she was some sort of imitator.  Teena Marie was soul and she was an original.

I think Teena was right when she said in the song “Deja Vu,” “I’ve been here before;”  and maybe it was that experience that made her music so powerful and her voice so timeless.  But if that’s true, it must also be true that she’s “not coming back no more,” meaning there will never be another Teena Marie.  I’m so happy I was here to experience her last visit.

I mixed this compilation the night of Teena’s death to help comfort me; I hope this celebration of her iconic slow-tempo songs does the same for you.

Download the 192 kbps version (107 MB) here!

Teena Marie – Young Love

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My heart is broken, and I have no words.  I dedicate this “Song of the Moment” to one of music’s most soulful sisters… Lady T.  Rest in peace.