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Watch: CNN's Don Lemon on Teena Marie's Legacy


Don Lemon called in to CNN last night to discuss Teena Marie's legacy.


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  1. Claiming that she's leaving a huge legacy is ridiculous. The male reporter is obviously a huge fan, but to claim that she "ushered in rap and hip hop" is absurd.

    Few people under 35 have any idea who she was, and most of those over 35 *may* remember one song (Lovergirl). I'm not trying to disparage her, and an early death is always tragic. But we shouldn't rewrite history.

    Her mentor was Rick James, and while he was more famous, his death had a similar ring...people thinking, Oh that guy with one or two hits from a while ago. And he was horribly abusive toward women, served prison time, and died with nine drugs in his system...

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 27, 2010 9:57:49 AM

  2. I know her music...and love it, play it to this day! And yes, she left a HUGE musical legacy and a quality body of work with 13 albums spanning decades. She NEVER stopped working, performing and recording up until her demise. Paul R posted above, "I'm not trying to disparage her" but then goes on to do just that by questioning her legacy, such a shame. And, in this day and internet age, if you don't know her or her music fortunately you can do yourself a favor and go right to it. Especially if you treasure R&B music and follow those charts where Lady Tee and the like had countless hits and entries. She was a LEGEND and will truly be missed by countless numbers of folks and fans....

    Posted by: yeahisaidit | Dec 27, 2010 10:18:23 AM

  3. Does anyone else think the reporter Don Lemon is hot?? Baby, you can sing to me anytime.

    Posted by: paul | Dec 27, 2010 10:34:09 AM

  4. I don't know music, so I'll leave the evaluation of her impact/influence to those who know. From what Mr Lemon says, I can see why she will be missed in that community.

    I'm sure there are lots of people out there who are important in their professions--medicine, physics, architecture, etc--and who are unknown to the community at large. Let's not belittle their accomplishments just 'cause we don't know 'em.

    Posted by: Christopher | Dec 27, 2010 11:03:53 AM

  5. The reporter is not overstating her legacy. True music lovers, especially R&B fans, know what a great talent she was. As the AP reporter who wrote her obit says, Teena Marie was one of the few white R&B artists who was respected and revered by the black community. That says a lot.

    Posted by: piernudo | Dec 27, 2010 11:07:47 AM

  6. I'm 38 and I can honestly say that I remember first hearing Teena Marie in the early 80s. And I am not embarrassed to say that I remember being shocked when I saw her AFTER hearing one of her songs on the radio. *This may come off as racist, but it's not so read carefully.* She sounded "Black." I can't recall too many White ladies, at that time, who were getting as much airplay on Black radio as she was and I couldn't believe this lady had such a powerful voice. I hadn't, at the time, heard anyone whose voice commanded the kind of respect and response as this lady's did. This is one of my earliest recollections of learning the lesson of not judging a book by its cover. Seriously...

    Posted by: jarrin | Dec 27, 2010 11:48:29 AM

  7. Paul R., you may only remember her pop hit "Lovergirl," but she had 7 top 10 R&B hits between 1979 and 1990 (including a #1, "Ooo La La La"), 6 top 10 R&B albums, 1 of which made the top 10 pop as recently as 2004, and 2 of which went platinum. And then, of course, there's "The Brockert Initiative," which could be compared to Olivia de Havilland's successful court battle with Warner Bros. over her contract.

    Posted by: Joseph | Dec 27, 2010 12:07:12 PM

  8. It's not racist to say she "sounded black". Those of us of a certain age remember the time before MTV where you didn't always know what the singer looked like, especially if the record company decided not to put their picture on the album cover. People thought Madonna was black or biracial too until Like A Virgin in '84. The same with Hall & Oates in the mid 70's.

    Posted by: dk | Dec 27, 2010 12:14:43 PM

  9. I am a big fan of hers..."Square Biz" was my first exposure to her...but I caught up quickly. I was lucky to see her in concert a couple times and she was a great performer.She also wrote most of her stuff.
    I think she helped create bridges between various communities. This is a big loss and she will be missed by many.

    Posted by: Rocco | Dec 27, 2010 12:56:34 PM

  10. Her legacy? I never heard of her.

    Posted by: Lou | Dec 27, 2010 1:18:56 PM

  11. @PaulR F>U>

    Posted by: Chris | Dec 27, 2010 1:42:57 PM

  12. What do you mean Lou, you never heard of her: YOU JUST DID! So go run and tell that,damn...

    Posted by: yeahisaidit | Dec 27, 2010 1:52:08 PM

  13. Dear Lou and Paul R., that's a shame, and indeed, your loss.

    I am constantly saddened by the vicious mindset of the random troll that visits this site. The anonymity of the web has provided an open portal for the sad little souls of the world to vent their poisonous waste, to no end. While it may seem unfathomable in an age of global communication that anything could go unmissed, I find it deplorably arrogant that any individual could think they are so omnipotent as to question the validity of, of all things, a tribute, an obituary, or praise of anyone, simply because they themselves had not heard of the devotee.

    When you die, "Lou", and "Paul R", I wonder who will care. And, if anyone does, will another like-minded troll even bother to carelessly keyboard some fetid waste to the public simply to say "I was here" in order to somehow diminish what your loved ones may have thought of you.

    Posted by: FizziekruntNT | Dec 27, 2010 1:59:00 PM

  14. @YEAHISAIDIT *giggles* hahahahah! You're funny ;)

    Posted by: FizziekruntNT | Dec 27, 2010 2:18:06 PM

  15. Don Lemon gives a very nice tribute to Teena Marie and Ms. Marie's legacy. I first heard her in a dance club and, like many others, was surprised when it turned out that she was white. She had a wonderful voice and, in spite of the nay-sayers here, she did have an influence on some of the paths that R&B has traveled on up to today's musical genres. Mr. Lemon very astutely pointed out that Ms. Marie's lawsuit against Motown had an effect of liberating artists locked into contracts that were nothing but legal servitude. If for that alone, she should be remembered.

    I loved the bits when Mr. Lemon sang a few notes of Ms. Marie's songs. I love to watch him on CNN and try to never miss his news segment. Besides being a damned good newscaster, he is incredibly handsome and very sexy. (Sigh.)

    Posted by: jamal49 | Dec 27, 2010 2:23:26 PM

  16. I find it so amusing that some people feel that because they haven't heard of her, she can't possibly be influential. Like you're the center of the universe. Sounds very Tea Party anti-intellectual to me. Truth is, she was very influential to those in the know in R&B, and success and influence can be measured in more than the number of top 10 hits.

    Posted by: Steve | Dec 27, 2010 2:26:20 PM

  17. @PAUL R
    Hey Paul - just because she did not cross over in too mainstream pop with the exception of Lovergirl does not mean she did not leave a huge legacy. You only know that song because you do not listen to R&B. Furthermore, the Fugees would not have sampled her song "Oh La La La" if she did not leave a legacy.

    That is what pisses me off. Just because it is not a mainstream hit does not mean it is not a rich work. "Disco Duck" and "Short People" were chart hits but that does not make it a quality song.

    Teena Marie was underrated. And I am glad this guy and Andy are giving her recognition because her memory deserves it. She may not have been a publicity whore but that does not mean she was not a great musician.

    Just because YOU only know one of her songs is your deal. You could be gracious and keep your opinion to yourself.

    Posted by: Tell It Like It Is | Dec 27, 2010 3:00:12 PM

  18. @LOU

    Well you should have heard of her. It would have taken you less engery to goodle or wikipedia her than it did to write that shitty, snarky remark.

    Posted by: Tell It Like It Is | Dec 27, 2010 3:01:51 PM

  19. I apologize. I was in a terrible mood when I wrote that comment. And I certainly agree that commercial success has nothing to do with an artist's talent. Because of that, I had no idea that she'd been so successful (likely because she took an admirable 14-year hiatus to raise her daughter).

    I meant no offense to her fans, and I apologize for my ignorance.

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 27, 2010 7:57:11 PM

  20. Teena Marie was the Queen of Ivory Soul! Her early music was great - I never realized she was white until I saw her perform on Soul Train in the early 80's. She was only played on R&B radio stations in the early days - Mainstream pop stations didnt play her cuz they thought she was "too black". Sorry I wont get to hear her put out new music. God Bless.

    Posted by: anthony | Dec 27, 2010 10:58:22 PM

  21. I loved this woman's talent. She was a huge part of my adolescence. It also sucks to know she lived in my very own city and I had no idea. :(

    Posted by: Marie | Dec 27, 2010 11:17:45 PM

  22. @DK

    Nothing racist about saying that...speaking of Madonna, one of the big reasons that Madonna became persona non grata from black radio for a while was because she made dispariging comments about Teena Marie to the effect that Marie was one of "Rick James' things."

    The closest that anyone has really come to the type of artist that Teena Marie was that anyone under 35 would know would be Lisa Stansfield. And like Marie, many of my favorite Stansfield hits (i.e. "All Woman") did not make it onto pop radio.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Dec 28, 2010 9:32:33 AM

  23. Teena Marie was an amazing talent, and was one of my all-time favorite artists of any genre.

    She is the only white artist I can think of who was far more popular among black audiences than white. Don Lemon was incorrect when he stated that she "crossed over" into R&B. It was just the opposite. R&B was her base audience, from which she occasionally crossed over to the pop audience, most notably with "Lovergirl". Unlike a lot of other white artists who sang R&B-flavored pop (Hall & Oates, George Michael, etc.), what she did was not "blue-eyed soul", it was real soul music. And as great as her voice and her musicianship was, I think what I admired about her most was her originality in terms of her lyrics. Let's face it, late 70's-early 80's R&B was not known for inventiveness in terms of its lyrical content, but Teena Marie always seemed to come up with a fresh take on things.

    Although all her biggest pop hits were up-tempo dance numbers, for me it was her slow jams where she really shined. I once made a tape of all of my favorite Teena Marie slow jams, and I must've had to re-record it a half dozen times because friends of mine would "borrow" it and never give it back.

    Posted by: ezwriter | Dec 28, 2010 3:16:04 PM

  24. This really hurts me. As a fellow dogtown dweller, I always loved knowing she was in my neighborhood. Her concerts were thrilling. I saw her with Rick James right after he got out of jail. Their connection was so deep. She sang at Divas Simply Singing - just Lady T and a piano. That was a couple of months after she had her beautiful baby daughter, and Teena was so proud. I'm going to miss waiting for her next record, her next expression of creative genius. Love to you always, Lady T. I know the music's good in heaven.

    Posted by: Leslee | Dec 28, 2010 4:41:31 PM

  25. For those of you who need to get acquainted with THE LEGENDARY TEENA MARIE, my friend made a mini tribute mix that you can listen to here:

    Just push the big green play button at the top of the page. For the fans, enjoy.

    Posted by: RW | Dec 29, 2010 1:33:34 AM

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