Legendary R&B singer/songwriter Teena Marie passed away Dec. 26 at the age of 54. She was a protege of funk superstar Rick James and was known for hits like "Square Biz," "I Need Your Lovin" and "Fire and Desire."
Marie first appeared on the scene in the late '70s and became hugely popular in the 80s. Her 1979 debut album "Wild and Peaceful" featured her first big hit "I'm Just a Sucker for Your Love."
Her soulful, powerful voice made fans think she was black, so Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. chose not to feature her photo on the album's cover. In fact it wasn't until her appearance on "Soul Train" that the majority of her fans discovered she was white.
As the decade progressed her soulful ballads of lost love and upbeat dance anthems made Marie a bonafide R&B star. Unfortunately, her self-described "fiery" relationship with James would lead to her downfall as she battled addiction and a changing music landscape.
However, her music has stayed popular on classic R&B stations and has been sampled by hip-hop artists like The Fugees and Foxy Brown.
She made a comeback in 1994 with "I'm Still in Love" and reunited with James at the 2004 BET Awards for a performance of the classic duet "Fire and Desire." Unfortunately, this would be their last appearance together since James died later that year.
Marie's voice was like no other and her influence on soul music can never be calculated as she was one of the first and only white artists to become hugely successful as a soul singer. Though she will be missed her music serves as a legacy of her talent and accomplishments.
R.I.P. the Ivory Queen of Soul, the Vanilla Child, Lady T.