US soul singer Teena Marie dies at 54

Teena Marie Teena Marie performed on tour last year

The Grammy-nominated American soul singer Teena Marie has been found dead at her California home at the age of 54, her manager has said.

Teena Marie often worked with funk legend Rick James with hits such as Lovergirl and Fire and Desire.

Teena Marie, who was born Mary Christine Brockert and also used the moniker Lady T, was a rare white artist on the Motown label when she was signed in the late 1970s.

She won four Grammy nominations.

Huge respect

Publicist Jasmine Vega and manager Mike Gardner confirmed her death.

Start Quote

I'm a black artist with white skin. At the end of the day you have to sing what's in your own soul”

End Quote Teena Marie

Mr Gardner said Teena Marie had apparently died in her sleep at her home and was found by her daughter.

When she signed to Motown, it was reportedly worried of a fan backlash to the white star and her image did not appear on her first album for the label, Wild and Peaceful.

Her second album carried her photograph after fears of a rejection by fans proved unfounded.

She became hugely respected by the black audience and was dubbed the "ivory queen of soul"."

"I'm a black artist with white skin. At the end of the day you have to sing what's in your own soul," she said in a 2009 interview.

The singer left Motown in 1982 and six years later scored her only US R&B chart number one hit single Ooo La La La, elements of which appeared in the Fugees song entitled Fu-Gee-La a decade later.

Teena Marie returned to the spotlight with a comeback album in 2004, and landed one of her Grammy nominations a year later in the best R&B female vocal performance category.

In an interview with the Associated Press last year, the performer said she had beaten an addiction to prescription drugs and was going on tour to support Congo Square, the album which was to become her last.

It reached the top 20 on the US album chart.

In the UK her biggest hit was Behind the Groove, which reached number six in the singles chart in 1980.

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