Born Mary Christine Brockert in Santa Monica, California, the 54-year-old artist famously paired with late funk legend Rick James and was nominated four times for a Grammy Award, according to her official website.
Marie was found dead by her daughter after apparently dying in her sleep, manager Mike Gardner said.
"Teena was a black voice trapped in a white body," said Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One, a broadcasting company that targets African-American and urban listeners. "I would always tell her that she was one of the greatest vocalists of our time."
Among her songs were "Lovergirl," "Portuguese Love," "Ooo La La La," and "I'm a Sucker for Your Love."
While no cause of death has been released, the singer's publicist Lynn Jeter said that Marie suffered a grand mal seizure -- a neurological event, marked by loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions, according to the Mayo Clinic -- a month ago.
"Luckily, someone was there," Jeter said of that seizure. "The ambulance took her to the hospital, and on the way she had another seizure."
The publicist said that she had a "great" conversation on Saturday with Marie, who told her that she was excited about heading to Atlanta to perform this week -- in what would have been her first performance since the seizure.
Marie sang under various record labels, including Motown, Epic, Stax Records and Cash Money Classics, since bursting on the scene as a 19-year-old, according to her website. Her last studio album, Congo Square, featured several collaborations.
Eddie Levert, founder of the vocal group The O'Jays, praised Marie as both a singer and mother.
"There are a lot of black people who swore by her and believed in her, as far as her music was concerned," he said. "She was a good mom, and to me, that is saying a lot.''
CNN Senior Political Contributor Roland S. Martin contributed to this report.
-- Courtesy CNN.com
Agreeing with Eddie Levert, I swore by her and I believed in her. I remember loving her first single when it was going up the charts, "I'm Just A Sucker For Your Love" more than 30 yrs ago, I think. I remember thinking about how funky-sounding that sista was, and that she was the female version of Rick James. I remember first loving her voice and buying her album on vinyl. The cover of her album, "Wild and Peaceful," did not feature her image, with Motown apparently fearing backlash by audiences if they found out the songstress with the dynamic voice was white. Motown decided to let her voice speak for itself. I had no idea she was white. I was shocked, that something so funky could come from someone that looked like her. She sang with authority. I remember watching a documentary on her life on the TV One cable station-which I predict, will be be playing in rotation soon. She was the product of her environment. She was raised on the R&B music of the 60s and 70s, she was raised on Motown. She sang the music she knew about, what was in her heart. And she had credibility.
May she rest in peace.
Below are some of my favorites of hers.
& one of the best duets EVER. If you've never heard of her, listen to her duet with Rick James (may he rest in peace as well)