Rest in Peace, Teena Marie (aka Mary Christine Brockert)

Celebrating a wonderful artist with quite a legacy.

The first white artist to score on the R&B charts, not only could Teena Marie blow, she had guts.  Her legal fight against Motown resulted in “‘the Brockert Initiative,’which limits a record company’s ability to keep a musician under contract while refusing to release any of that performer’s music. In such instances, artists are able to sign and release with another label instead of being held back by an unsupportive one. Teena Marie commented on the law in an LA Times article, saying, “It wasn’t something I set out to do. I just wanted to get away from Motown and have a good life. But it helped a lot of people, like Luther Vandross and the Mary Jane Girls, and a lot of different artists, to be able to get out of their contracts.”

from Behind the Groove:

She sued the company in a landmark court case in 1982 for nonpayment of royalties. The lawsuit, and countersuit from Motown, took about 2 years and cost Teena nearly $1 million in legal fees. Teena did not want to record for them anymore due to her bad recording contract (negotiated while she was still a minor, and signed without being allowed benefit of legal counsel) and not getting paid; Motown claimed she owed them one more album. But success was Teena’s when Motown backed down and settled with her out of court, knowing that she’d won the case. Teena signed to Epic records where she continued to record (and have plenty of chart and critical success) until she left that company after releasing Ivory in ’90.

A complex life but a life well lived.


About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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