Teena Marie Sapphire Interview
Shelia: I’ve been listening to you sing for years. My all time favorites are “Dear Lover,” “Square Biz” and “Fire & Desire.” Off your La Dona album, the duet with Gerald Levert, “I’m Still in Love,” “Rose by Any Other Name” and “Off the Chain.” Needless to say, I’ve been a long time fan of yours. I can go on & on with the songs that I like.
My first question for you today is how did Lady Tee end up on the Cash Money Records label?
Teena Marie: My record was pretty much already finished. It fell into the hands of Ronald Williams. They heard the record and asked me if I would come to New Orleans and I was like “Cash Money and Teena? That’s different.” They were like “We’re not trying to get you to do us. We want you to continue to do what you do. We heard your record and we really like it and we would like to start a classic label and have you as the first official artist.”
Shelia: I got a chance to hear your first CD La Dona on Cash Money. I thought it was classic Teena.
Teena Marie: Thanks. Have you heard the new one?
Shelia: I haven’t had a chance to listen to Sapphire yet.
Teena Marie: You’ll like the new one better than the last one. At least that’s what folks say anyway.
Shelia: What’s different between the Sapphire album and La Dona?
Teena Marie: I used a lot more real musicians as opposed to machines…I still used machines, but more real musicians. You can also hear a lot of the Rick & Teena influence in this. I feel like he was writing with me. Like the tracks “Make it Hot.” We influenced each other. Like the ballads “You Blow Me Away” or “Somebody Just Like You.” The Smokey Robinson song “Cruise Control” came out real beautiful. He’s very much influenced my writing career. It was very exciting to be able to work with him after all this time. That was pretty awesome to me; to be in the studio with your idol.
Shelia: Yes, that would be exciting.
Teena Marie: My early music sounded like Smokey. I studied his music as a young girl because I wanted to write those kind of songs.
Shelia: Do you have any other duets besides the one with Smokey?
Teena Marie: I had Kurupt on “Who’s Is It.” I did a duet with my daughter. She was only 13 at the time it was recorded. The song is called “Resilent (Sapphire).” It’s the very last song on the album. My best friend’s grandmother died and then the stuff happened with Hurricane Katrina. It was my tribute to the people of the south and how resilent they are.
Shelia: I’m from Louisiana so I will definitely listen to that track.
Teena Marie: I was there. I was on one of the last flights out of New Orleans.
Shelia: It affected so many people. The fact that some in the music community has donated their time, money, and other efforts means a lot.
Teena Marie: That particular track, the money from it will go to a foundation that restores music of Louisiana.
Shelia: It sounds like you have something on your CD for everyone.
Teena Marie: It’s nice. I’m very happy about it. I like it and that’s important. I haven’t always liked everything I’ve done.
Shelia: There are so many female singers and groups that come and go and we never hear from them again. How do you explain your longevity?
Teena Marie: I’m a songwriter though so it’s kind of different with me. I actually write my own songs. I never had to search for songs. It’s a little harder, when you’re an artist or group when you don’t write. I’m still very passionate about music and life. I’m blessed that God gave me a gift that I can channel what I see with words into songs.
Shelia: I like listening to slow music. Dear Lover, Fire & Desire and several others is what I like listening to when I’m going through something or in a relationship. Dear Lover is one of my favorites.
Teena Marie: "Dear Lover" is one of my favorites too when I do my live concerts and the song “If I Were a Bell.” That session is my favorite part of the show.
Shelia: Will you be in Dallas any time soon?
Teena Marie: I think so. Probably some time this summer. We’re putting all of our dates together right now.
Shelia: Do you have a website folks can go to?
Teena Marie: Yes. (https://www.teenamarie.com/)
Shelia: What do you want the listener to walk away with after listening to Sapphire?
Teena Marie: I really want them to feel the Rick & Tina sound. I think what we had was very magical. It’s really a love album. It makes you feel that way. It’s very much about love and I think we really need that; especially right now.
Shelia: Did you & Rick remain friends over the years?
Teena Marie: We had our falling outs, but we were like brothers and sisters. We were family. We really loved each other. I never bought into the stuff he was doing and I wasn’t one of those that didn’t say anything. Sometimes we banged heads. He was my family. I was like his little alter ego. He tried to get away, but we loved each other very much. I miss him.
Shelia: We all do. This question is for those of us who simply can’t get enough of the duet “Fire and Desire.” When you all were recording the song, did you or Rick think that it would be one of those slow songs that would stand the test of time?
Teena Marie: I think we knew it was really powerful. But I don’t know if we realized 30 years from now, it would be one of the top ballads of all time on the radio. People still lose it when I do it in my show.
It was really amazing to perform it. We didn’t even have to sing a note. Time the music started and people would see him walk out, it was like oh my goodness…here they come…it was awesome.
Shelia: What do you think is the difference between the love songs of that time and the ones that are coming out today?
Teena Marie: When I think back to the old days, the groups I grew up on were like the Delphonics. I think a lot of love songs from today are overtly sexual…not saying our music wasn’t…our music was very sexy but with an undertone. Our songs weren’t so in your face and it wasn’t graphic.
Shelia: Charlie Wilson said something similiar.
Teena Marie: Charlie has some great ballads.
I think there are a lot of great love songs out now. I love Keyshia Cole. Mariah Carey does beautiful love songs. Beyonce had some beautiful ballads on her solo project as well as the ones with Destiny’s Child.
Shelia: We have similar music tastes. Besides those, I love Mary J Blige’s too.
Teena Marie: I love her songs.
Shelia: How do you feel about your daughter singing?
Teena Marie: It’s not something I would have chosen for her, but whatever she does, I’ll support her. She doesn’t want to come out with a record for a couple of years; which I think is very smart.
Shelia: Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?
Teena Marie: Just thank you. It feels really wonderful to still be able to do what I love to do and I really appreciate the fact that people still love me.
Shelia: Ms. Teena, we appreciate the fact that you’re still putting out good music.
Interview by entertainment writer Shelia M. Goss. She's also the national bestselling author of My Invisible Husband and Roses are thorns, Violets are true. Her website is www.sheliagoss.com. For more entertainment news, go to www.e-spire.blogspot.com.
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