Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Teena March 5, 1956 - December 26, 2010
I’m really still in shock about the sudden death of legendary R&B singer Teena Marie. Man, talk about hitting home! My mom called me on Sunday night, because my aunt had called her, because a cousin had seen it on the news internet… the anxiety wasn’t because Teena Marie was some famous singer, it was because she was a neighborhood girl; a Venice girl. Originally, I thought… no way, not Teena? But sadly, it turned out to be true. Teena was more than just a famous singer for me, her younger brother Tony is one of my oldest friends.

Mary Christine Brockert a.k.a Teena Marie grew up in a big old house on Nowita Court, on one of the old Venice walk streets (I had some cousins that lived on that same block.)  Both she and Tony went to Mark Twain Jr. High and Venice High School (Teena was several years older.)  As children both had a talent for music and often would perform in local talent shows. As a teen Teena began to hang with the local black kids and fell in love with soul and R&B music. Teena found that she had the gift of this super soulful voice that could blow everyone else (of any color) away. Teena amazingly enough did brake a color barrier…a reverse one. No one could believe that a little white girl could sing like that? But she did, and she went on to make it big in the music business… she beat the odds and became a star!

Think about how the local folks in Hoboken felt about that kid, Sinatra?… to the real Venice natives her story carried the same kinda tune.  She was the local hero. I remember (as many of my friends do) following Teena rise to stardom, through the eyes of her family. We would always hear what Teena was up too, what was going on with her career; especially during those years when her career was just on fire, with such hits as: Lover Girl, I’m Just A Sucker For Your Love, Square Biz. And like all long careers (hers over 30 years and was still going strong) she had her ups and downs too of course. Teena was a real tough little cookie.  When Motown Records stopped promoting and releasing her music (not to mention trying to screw her out of royalties), Teena, took a big gamble and squared off in court with the giant record company… and knocked them out. Thanks to her; a law called the Brocket Initiative is now in the books, not only did it help her, but it has saved many other artists who found themselves behind an eight ball in their contracts (and many more in the future I’m sure.)
As for Teena’s personal life? What I know, I won’t say... but, I probably know about as much as you do?  I do know that she was real tight with the late funk rocker Rick James, and he was kind of her guru. When Rick died in 2004, I know it was a heavy thing for her. Teena, rolled with it, like most successful performers in entertainment world, I’m sure that her fame and fortune came with the usual trappings. But to her credit, anytime I ran into Teena, that’s who she was; Teena… never Lady T (her showbiz moniker.) But I’ll tell you, if you were in the same room with her, make no mistake about it; her talent was the 800 pound gorilla that you were sharing the space with. You always felt that if she wanted to, she could do an Ella Fitzgerald number a shatter a wine glass with a high note.

Teena was also regarded as a performer who really gave her audience a show. I’m kicking myself now, because I never got around to seeing her perform live. I’ve always heard that her shows were legendary.  I foolishly figured that Teena would be around forever. I even heard recently that there had been interest in bring her life story to the big screen... interesting to see what happens now? I sure that Teena's legend will only grow bigger with the passing years.
Teena in 2000 at her brother Tony's 40th birthday party.

The last time I saw Teena, I was killing time waiting around for my (then) girlfriend, I was looking in the window of a travel store on Raymond Avenue in Pasadena, Teena happened to be standing right next to me, we both suddenly turned and recognized each other…funny, you just never know when you’re gonna actually see someone for the last time?

Teena called me once, about a year and half ago. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the Villa Marina shopping center, when my cell phone rang. It was a number that I didn’t recognize… I picked up the phone and said “hello this Ray” and I heard this unmistakable voice “hey, Ray it's Teena…” I thought to myself, yikes, if Teena’s calling me… I must be in trouble? And I kinda was (just a little); but that’s another story. She was my pal Tony’s big sister, but because of who she was, and what she had accomplished, I think that she kinda carried that big sister weight about her to many of his friends?

I know that all of Teena’s extended Venice family is sending out prayers to that of her immediate. I can only imagine how heavy her dear mom, Mrs. Brockert’s heart is right now… and of course, Teena’s teenage daughter Alia, and I feel for my pal, Tony and all of the Brockert family...  sad stuff.  I’m sure that a lot of us old Venice locals do feel like we just kinda lost our big talented sister… goodbye dear Teena, I know that your spirit continues on somewhere, because of all people you proved without a doubt... that you always had soul sister.


  1. Ray, Well said and she will be missed. I was fortunate to see her perform, and a great performer she was. RIP from all your local loved ones in Venice!

  2. Anthony Brockert
    to me

    show details 4:53 PM (20 hours ago)

    My dear, friend-
    I'm all teared up, and trying not to "lose it" at the Marvista, Library!
    Most, beautiful, words, for a most, beautiful, performer and human-being...
    I, our family, [fans/friends], and Tina, thankyou-
    * Tony(Teena's brother)sent me this through my email... thought I'd share it.

  3. Thank you Irene... It's nice to get a word from the hometown: Venice!


  4. Tina Trivia... Two of Tina's favorite movies were; The Last of the Mohicans & Tombstone.