This R&B singer became a radio darling in 1984 thanks to her popular song Lovergirl.
Mary Christine Brockert, known by her stage name as Teena Marie, grew up in Venice, California, and was soon juggling auditions and studying literature.
In the late 1970s she auditioned for a Motown film project, which never got off the ground, but led to her meeting Motown’s Berry Gordy, who signed her as a solo act.
She then met fellow label mate Rick James, and became his protegee. The duo collaborated on several songs with her, including her first duo hit “I’m A Sucker For Your Love”. Since her photo wasn’t included in the any of the press materials or on the album, most people assumed Teena Marie was African American, but she wasn’t.
Teena Marie became the first white woman to guest on Soul Train in 1979 with Rick James and went on to become the only white female singer to appear eight times on the show.
After Teena Marie ended her contract with Motown Records after a lawsuit over release of new material, she signed with Epic Records.
In November 1984 she released the album Starchild, with the lead single Lovergirl. This album climbed the charts, with Lovergirl hitting number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. She was nominated for a Grammy for best R&B performance for the song.
The album became Teena Marie’s best selling album ever, peaking at #31 on the Billboard Album charts in 1985 and established her a rare white soul singer in the 1980s.
Her unique sound of blending rap, hip hop, rhythm and blues and rock made Teena Marie a popular artist, who for years was considered an African American artist, although she was white.