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Teena Marie, The Moors & The Alchemy Of Soul: The Myth Of A White R&B Singer


The passing of Teena Marie  on December 26, 2010,  struck a chord with R&B fans and music lovers throughout the world. Her songs such as “Square Biz”, “Ooh La La La”, and of the course the memorable duet with Rick James “Fire & Desire” endeared her to a legion of music fans. 

Lenny Kravitz posted an emotional video in which he revealed that Marie had taken him into her home and helped him when he was struggling early in his career.

The story of Teena Marie is a composite of various strands including her own individual story, the issue of race in America as well as the history of  R&B and Soul Music. In Teena Marie’s life we see an example of the alchemical process of “becoming” and its impact on identity in America as well as the rest of the world. Teena Marie’s legacy is not without its complexities and controversies, especially given the elevated role of  a supposedly white woman achieving success performing Black music.

Teena Marie for some is an example of how Black people uncritically idolize white people and how persons of African ancestry view themselves , as well as what is “talent”  and “beauty”.

Teena Marie by most accounts was able to avoid the appearance of exploiting the legacy of Black Music where other artists such as Elvis Presley among others failed to do.

When we examine the metaphysical signatures rooted in Teena Marie’s existence we will find correspondences to people of African ancestry, Motown Records, Rick James and the tropical zodiac sign of Aries.

Contrary to published reports Teena Marie was not the first white act to be signed to Barry Gordy’s Motown record company. White singer Debbie Dean born Reba Jeanette Smith was the first white female solo act to sign with the Black owned Motown Records.

After a string of minor successful hits, Debbie Dean was dropped from Motown’s roster to later rejoin the record company as a writer/singer, and collaborated with producer/writer Deke Richards (aka “Lussier”) on songs for the Supremes, Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Martha and the Vandellas, Edwin Starr, and other Motown artists.

She later co-wrote and recorded “Why Am I Lovin’ You” on Motown’s V.I.P. label. Debbie Dean lived from February 1, 1928 to February 17, 2001. 

The fact that the first female white solo artist to be signed by Barry Gordy to Motown Records was born and died in the month of February which is also Black History Month, is something readers should appreciate for the metaphysical and sociopolitical implications.

White acts were signed to Motown before Teena Marie, such as the “blue-eyed” soul band Rustix and the group Rare Earth which was the first big hit-making act signed by Motown that consisted only of white members.

Other white acts signed to Motown Records while under the ownership of Barry Gordy include Nick and the Jaguars, Chris Clark, Connie Haines, Mike and the Modifiers, Valadiers and British white female singer Kiki Dee.

Teena Marie was born Mary Christine Brockert on March 5, 1956 in Santa Monica, California.  Interestingly enough 186 years before Teena Marie was born, Crispus Attucks was one of five killed in the Boston Massacre becoming a martyr of the American Revolution on March 5, 1770.

She credits her godmother with exposing her to rich tapestry of Black music while growing up in the historically African-American enclave of Oakwood, a neighborhood of Venice in westside Los Angeles .

Teena Marie signed with Motown Records at the age of 19 in 1976. She went on to complete 13 studio albums, with her last one titled Congo Square released in 2009. Teena Marie’s body of work also includes 7 compilation albums and released 30 singles.

“In 1982, Marie got into a heated legal battle with Motown Records over her contract and disagreements about releasing her new material. The lawsuit resulted in “The Brockert Initiative”, which made it illegal for a record company to keep an artist under contract without releasing new material for that artist. 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.”

The metaphysical signatures associated with the spirit of Teena Marie include “The Moors”, “Santa Monica”, “Maman Brigette”, numbers 9, 11, 13, 19 and 26.

The Moors

Teena Marie is a symbolic metaphysical representation of the Moors in several ways. The first aspect is through her ethnic/racial background, followed by the historical meaning of the geographical names of the places she was born or lived and her active participation in Black music.

When describing her racial background Teena Marie stated that her ethnic heritage as “Portuguese, Italian, Irish and American Indian”.

At least three of the four ethnic groups Teena Marie identified with have direct historical relationships to the Moors.

The Moors ruled the Iberian Peninsula from 711 A.D. to 1492.  The Iberian Peninsula is the land mass covering Spain and Portugal.  Portugal is of course where Portuguese people come from.

Italians and the Irish are defined as swarthy and are included in the dictionary under the definition of Black. The Moors ruled southern Italy, Sicily in particular for at least two centuries. According to one source, the Moors invaded Sicily and Rome around 827 A.D.

The term such as “Black Irish” and the book  “How  The Irish Became White” by Noel Ignatiev come to mind, when dealing with the Irish as “non-whites”. The Irish’s association with the legacy of the Moors can be detected with names such as “Moore”, which is “Moor” with an additional letter “e” and Douglas, which means “the black river”.

We have another reference to the Moors with “Venice, Los Angeles” the area in which Teena Marie grew up as a child.

Readers should be reminded that “Venice” is also the name of a city in Italy, with Italy being  home to the Italians  which is one of the ethnic groups Teena Marie claims as part of her history.  Venice, Italy is also the setting of one of Shakespeare’s well-known plays “Othello”. 

In the play by Shakespeare, Othello is a Moor who was an African prince and general in the Venetian military. Othello was married to  a white woman Desdemona, which he kills in a fit of jealous rage after falling under the influence of evil gossip, falsely believing she was unfaithful.

The popular play by Shakespeare was an adaptation of Italian writer Cinthio’s work, “Un Capitano Moro” (“A Moorish Captain”) from his Gli Hecatommithi written in 1565.  Thus we have another reference to Italians, which are an ethnic group Teena Marie claims part of her family tree.

Santa Monica

Many Christians of all races and ethnic backgrounds are grossly ignorant of the African roots of their faith. This is seen with the African Santa Monica and her son Christian theologian St. Augustine. 

Teena Marie as mentioned before was born in Santa Monica, California.  Both the names of the city and state of Teena Marie’s birth are names of Black women. Remember Teena Marie credited her “godmother” with exposing her to Black music. While at this time her godmother’s name is unknown, we see the spiritual godmother archetype with the name Santa Monica.

Santa Monica named after Saint Monica the mother of  Augustine of Hippo, who wrote extensively of her virtues and his life with her in his Confessions. Santa is Spanish for “Saint”. Saint Monica is said to have been born in Algeria, North Africa.

The state of California provides another “godmother” spiritual archetype associated with Teena Marie. Dr. Kwaku Person Lynn writes:

“It is well documented that of the 44 people who founded the City of Los Angeles, 26 were of Afrikan descent. What is amazing and not taught in California schools is that the majority of the founders of San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego were of Afrikan descent, or that Orange County, Beverly Hills and Malibu were once owned by people of Afrikan descent.

The state of California was named after the mythical Black Queen Califia.”

Dr. Kwaku Person Lynn goes on to add:

“According to the story, California was an island where only Black women lived, gold was the only metal and pearls were as common as rocks.

The women were the most powerful and ferocious women in the world. They had beasts that were half men, half birds. After mating with men, the women would feed the men to these beasts called griffins. When Cortez arrived in California, searching for this mythical queen, her influence on him was so sever, he paid tribute to this powerful Black Woman Queen Califia by naming the state after her. California literally means, “the land where Black women live.”

Maman Brigette

With Teena Marie’s supposed ethnic background and association with people of African ancestry it is no surprise that her last studio album while alive would be titled Congo Square. According to a Barnes and Noble music editorial review:

Inspired by discovering that some of her family roots are in New Orleans, a city with which she has long felt a deep spiritual connection, Teena Marie frames Congo Square around the Crescent City. It’s her third solid album of the decade, but somewhat ironically, it’s not on the New Orleans-based Cash Money, the home of 2004’s La Doña and 2006’s Sapphire, but Memphis’ Stax.”

In regards to Congo Square:

“Congo Square is the unofficial name for an open space in the southern corner of Louis Armstrong Memorial Park. Officially named Beauregard Square, the site is paved in cobblestones and has large oaks and other ornamentals. The site has remained an open meeting area since the establishment of the city. Congo Square was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Before 1800, African-American slaves gathered on Sunday afternoons in an open field just outside the city walls on the edge of the Treme plantation. African-Americans, both enslaved and free, used this space to market goods, socialize, and participate in drumming, musicmaking, and dance. This interaction helped maintain a musical heritage and social cohesion in the African-American community. New Orleanians and visitors to the city also came here to witness African-American music and dance. The use of this area declined in the 1840s and ended by the beginning of the Civil War. Today, however, Congo Square holds a special symbolic importance to African-Americans. Although the historic use of the site predates jazz, it is significant because of the role the square played in New Orleans’ musical heritage and as a symbol of the early African-American contributions to the origins of jazz and other musical forms.”

Teena Marie’s connection to New Orleans and Louisiana in general was evident prior to the release of her Congo Square album with her signing with the sub-label of the Cash Money music label.

Teena Maire in many ways embodies the spirit of Maman Brigette.

Maman Brigitte was also known as the “Mother of Justice“. Consider Teena Maire’s  landmark” Brockert Initiative”, legal victory against Motown Records in this aspect of the Maman Brigitte archetype.

Maman Brigitte is usually depicted as white-skinned with red hair, and it is said that she is a form of the Celtic Goddess. Due to the intermarriage and cultural blending between the Irish and Africans, it is possible that Louisiana Hoodo and its parent Haitian Voodo is partially influenced by survivals of Celtic ancient religion. Maman Brigitte is one of the few Loa who are white. The Celtic reference is another link to Teena Marie’s supposed Irish roots.

Some scholars dispute the “Celtic” influence but still acknowledge that there was a intermingling between the Irish and African populations in Louisiana as well as Haiti. One writer asserts:

“Historically, most practitioners of hoodoo have been African- Americans, but there have been some notable white root doctors. Latinos and Native Americans have also been practitioners”

Thus we see as with the Moors, the Congo Square reference historical and metaphysical  links  to all the ethnic/racial groups that Teena Marie claims as part of her heritage as well as her association with people of African ancestry.

According to Mambo Racine Sans Bout:

“Maman Brigitte is considered to be the wife of Baron Samedi, Master of the Cemetery and chief of all the departed ancestors, known as lwa Gede. The grave of the first woman buried in any cemetery in Haiti is consecrated to Maman Brigitte, and it is there that her ceremonial cross is erected. She is invoked to “raise the dead”, meaning to cure and save those who are on the point of death from illness caused by magic.”

We should not be surprised that Maman Brigitte who has province over the dead is represented as a white person, for in many African traditions white was used to represent death.

With Teena Marie as Maman Brigitte,  Rick James would be her Baron Samedi. When we explore the numerology involved with Teena Marie we will identify more correspondences to the Maman Brigitte and Baron Samedi archetypes.

There are a host of numbers we could examine associated with Teena Marie but we will limit ourselves to the brief study of 5, 9, 11, 19 and 26, not necessarily in that order.

5

Teena Marie was born on the 5th of March 1956.

The date of  Teena Marie’s death on December 26, 2010= 12+26+2+0+1+0=41=4+1=5.

Rick James was born on February 1, 1948= 2+1+1+9+4+8=25. 25 is 5×5=25.

The song “Super Freak” was the 5th song from his album “Street Songs“.

9

Teena Marie passed away at the age of 54. 54=5+4=9.

The number 9 is associated with Baron Samedi and Maman Brigette.

Rick James’ full birth name was “James Ambrose Johnson, Jr.”  There are 19 letters in the name “James Ambrose Johnson” and under the Pythagorean system of numerology equals 72. “72”= 7+2=9.

The name “Rick James” has 9 letters.

11

The birth date of  Teena Marie on March 5, 1956=3+5+1+9+5+6=29=2+9=11

Rick James died at the age of 56. 56=5+6=11.

13

Teena Marie completed 13 studio albums.

April 20, 1978 Rick James’ Album “Come Get It” was released. “April 20, 1978″=4+20+1+9+7+8=49=4+9=13.

Rick James’ song “You and I” peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Pop Charts.

19

At the age of 19, Teena Marie signed with Motown Teena Marie’s first album with Motown was titled “Wild and Peaceful” in 1979.

Teena Marie’s given name is Mary Christine Brocket. The 19th surah of the Quran is titled “Maryam” which is Arabic for Mary.

Rick James’ full birth name was “James Ambrose Johnson, Jr.”  There are 19 letters in the name “James Ambrose Johnson”

Rick James released his album “Street Songs” in 1981. “1981”= 1+9+8+1=19.

26

Marie’s first album Wild and Peaceful was released in 1979. “1979”=1+9+7+9=26=2+6=8.

Teena Marie’s last studio album Congo Square was released on June 9, 2009=6+9+2+0+0+9=26=2+6=8.

Teena Marie passed away on December 26, 2010.

Aries

Teena Marie’s March 5, 1956 birth date qualifies her as an Aries under the tropical zodiac astrology system. In Medical Astrology , Aries rules the head.  Some have speculated that Teena Marie may have died as a result of a brain seizure. She reportedly  sustained a grand mal seizure last month. 

Aries appears again with the day of her death on December 26, 2010.

According to the discipline of  Esoteric Christianity, December 26th begins the first of the twelve holy days of Christmas, which is ruled by Aries. James is  disciple of the Christian tradition associated with Aries. 

The name “JAMES” appears once again with Teena Marie, which reminds us of her relationship with “RICK JAMES”.

On her album Congo Square, Teena Marie has a song dedicated to Martin Luther King’s widow Coretta Scott King. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, a day which is ruled by Aries.

Coretta Scott King was born  April 27, 1927, which under the sidereal astrology system is governed by Aries.

Aries through the sidereal calendar  is observed with the Moors’ conquest of the Iberian Peninsula on April 29, 711 A.D. According to the sidereal astrology the cycle for Aries lasts from April 15 to May 15.

While Teena Marie who is an Aries has been dubbed the “Queen of Ivory Soul”, she cites the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin as one of her major influences.  Aretha Franklin birthdate is on March 25, 1942, which also makes Franklin an Aries under the tropical astrology system.

Teena Marie throughout her life was engaged in the alchemical process involving her “SOUL”. The first stage began with her past with the diverse and various ethnic groups which comprised her family tree.  Each of these “branches” were linked historically to the Moors, who were originally from North Africa and Yemen. The Moors’ presence can also be found in Ireland as well.

The original Moors were not white but African and ruled the Iberian Peninsula from 711 A.D. to 1492, as well as parts of Italy in 827 A.D. The Iberian Peninsula consists of Portugal and Spain. Italy is the supposed home of Italians. Each ethnic group Teena Marie acknowledged as part of her blood line were areas conquered by the Moors or in the case of her Native-American part of her family tree were clearly non-white. Elvis Presley was also said to have Native-American roots on his mother’s side from the Cherokee nation. The source of Elvis Presley’s mother Native-American roots was from one of his mother’s great-great-grandmothers was Cherokee.

The second stage of the alchemical process Teena Marie experienced was with the areas where she lived from birth to young adulthood. Each name of the geographical area in which she lived from birth to young adulthood was also linked to the Moors. Teena Marie was born in Santa Monica, California.

Santa or Saint Monica was an actual person born in Algeria, which is in North Africa one of the historical homes of the Moors. California is named after an African Queen named Queen Califia.

The names “Santa Monica” and “California” are metaphysical representation of the “Godmother”spiritual archetypes which were the forerunners to her physical Godmother who introduced to as well as witnessed her “baptism” into R&B and Soul music.

Her growing up in the neighborhood of Venice in Los Angeles, Californian provides a dual reference to the Moors, for Venice is also a city in Italy an area once ruled by the Moors. Secondly the presence of the Moors in Venice, Italy was symbolized through the play  Othello by Shakespeare.

The fourth step in the alchemical process of Teena Marie was her commitment to and respect to playing Black Music. SOUND REORGANIZES MATTER.  Listening, appreciating Black Music, creating music of her own and playing this music as a fan as well as an artist altered her original chemistry.

Due to Teena Marie’s “Moorish” roots and given America’s one drop rule for determining Black identity, one can argue whether or not Teena Marie was truly white as in White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP). 

Through the science of alchemy, her sincere participation in the Black Music genre transformed her inner being through the process of Nigredo. 

Nigredo or blackness, in alchemy means putrefaction or decomposition. This is the first step in the pathway to the philosopher’s stone, where all alchemical ingredients had to be cleansed and cooked extensively to a uniform black matter.

The meaning  of the alchemical process known as Nigredo is expressed in the song Fire and Desire by Rick James and Teena Marie. It is through the “FIRE” that one can be “cleansed and cooked extensively to a uniform black matter”.

Teena Maire’s relationship with Rick James could be seen as another dimension of the alchemical process. Not only is the song “Fire and Desire” reflective of the Nigredo but their  relationship  carries profound metaphysical themes.

Teena Marie died at the age of 54. 54=5+4=9.

The name “Rick James” has 9 letters.

Teena Marie was born March 5, 1956=3+5+1+9+5+6=29=2+9=11.

Rick James died at the age of 56. 56=5+6=11.

Teena Marie is an Aries and the disciple associated with the Aries zodiac is “James- the brother of John”.  Rick James’ given name is “James Ambrose Johnson, Jr.”

Rick James was born on February 1, 1948. February 1st is the start of Black History Month. Hence Teena Marie’s  embrace of Black culture is metaphysically represented with her relationship with Rick James , despite its earthly imperfections.

Another example of Teena Marie’s release of date of her last album Congo Square, was in June which is Black Music Month.

Congo Square was Teena Marie’s 13th studio album and on April 29, 2011 marks 1300 years since the Moors’ occupation of the Iberian Peninsula in 711 A.D.

In addition to the Moors, Teena Marie also shared in the New Orleans/Louisiana culture which featured as with the Moors, an African cultural base that synthesized with other cultures.

Dick Gregory once commented that when a wound begins to heal a very black scab develops and covers it.

The current “isms” that confront the world are in the process of bringing forth their black healing cover. In Tiananmen Square the protestors in China sang a song from the Black led Civil Rights Movement in America “We Shall Overcome”.  America in seeking to emerge out of the quagmire from the Bush 43’s administration elected the first president of African ancestry.

This alchemical process which brings forth the black substance necessary for healing the world, is what Teena Marie in many ways symbolized.

 

End Notes

Congo Square New Orleans Photo:  http://freelargephotos.com/000316_l.jpg

Dr. Ivan Van Sertima

Dr. Jose  Pimienta-Bey

Dr. Edward Scobie

Booker T. Coleman

Dr. Kwaku Person Lynn

Bobby Hemmitt

Corinne Heline

Rev. Phil Valentine

©VisionThought 2011. All Rights Reserved.

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