Motown VP Iris Gordy; R&B Foundation’s Damon Williams Comment On Teena Marie’s Passing

Teena Marie
Teena Marie

The Rhythm & Blues Foundation announced today that “we are saddened by loss of our friend and R&B Legend Teena Marie.”

A recipient of the R&B Foundation’s 2008 Pioneer Award, Teena considered the acknowledgment to be one of the greatest honors of her illustrious career.

Upon accepting her award in 2008, a tearful Marie said, “Everything I ever asked God to give me, he gave me, and I have to give him the glory. I asked my heavenly father to take my poetry and let me set it to music, and he did.”

A statement from Damon Williams, Chairman of the R&B Foundation reads: “Teena was a true Pioneer of R&B music and a Musical Bridge Builder. She brought people from all walks of life together under the banner of soulful, heartfelt music.

“Her amazing voice and classic songs like ‘Square Biz,’ ‘Lover Girl,’ and her unforgettable duet ‘Fire and Desire’ with Rick James will continue to be played and enjoyed by the world keeping her presence alive. We were delighted and honored to have her in our presence to accept her well deserved Pioneer Award in 2008. She will truly be missed by us all.”

Former Vice President of Motown Records and R&B Foundation Executive Committee member Iris Gordy had this to say in a statement:

“Presenting the Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s 2008 Pioneer Award to Teena Marie was one of my proudest moments, not only because Teena was most deserving, but because she was like family and I knew how extremely moved she was to have been selected for that particular honor. Teena was a thoughtful, insightful and incredibly sensitive artist who approached life like a knowing soul who had truly ‘been here before. Always a fearless songwriter and producer, Teena possessed a uniquely recognizable vocal style. Her artistic light will remain incredibly bright. She was much loved and will be missed beyond measure.”

The Rhythm & Blues Foundation ( is the only non-profit organization solely dedicated to preserving Rhythm & Blues music and celebrating the artists who create it.

The Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Awards Program has recognized over 150 legendary artists whose lifelong contributions have been instrumental in the development of Rhythm & Blues music. The award honors the career achievements of solo artists, vocal groups, songwriters and producers who are nominated and selected by members of our board of directors.

As part of the Pioneer Awards, most recipients receive an honorarium. Since 1989, the Pioneer Awards Program has given over $1.5 million to worthy honorees and will continue to celebrate legendary Rhythm & Blues artists.

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