Known for hit songs 'Lovergirl,' 'Square Biz'

Teena Marie, the white soul singer who rang up more than 20 R&B hits during the funk era of the ’70s and ’80s, has died. She was 54.

Marie’s publicist and manager confirmed her passing. A CNN report said she died at her home on Dec. 26, but no cause of death or location has been given.

Born Mary Christine Brockert in Santa Monica, the big-voiced singer-songwriter – who was also a tough guitarist — was mentored by funk star Rick James, who produced some of her earliest work. She was signed to Motown’s Gordy imprint at the age of 20.

Blazing into the R&B top 10 in 1979 with “I’m a Sucker For Your Love,” the vocalist also scored with “I Need Your Lovin’” (No. 9, 1980) and “Square Biz” (No. 3, 1981).

In 1983, she segued to Epic Records, where 1984′s single “Lovergirl” reached No. 4 on the pop chart and No. 9 on the R&B chart. Four years later, she released her only No. 1 R&B hit, “Ooo La La La.”

Her albums “It Must Be Magic” (Gordy, 1981) and “Starchild” (Epic, 1984) went gold.

After parting company with Epic, she issued albums on her own indie label Sarai and on the Cash Money subsidiary Classics. She released her last album, “Congo Square,” in 2008 on Stax.Marie is survived by a daughter, Alia Rose, who performs under the stage name Rose Le Beau.

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