Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What a voice. What an original talent. What an incredible songwriter. What a musician.
Teena Marie was a firestorm of soul that no one had ever seen. I vividly remember hearing her music as a kid and while you don't racialize music as a child, I can remember completely ignoring the fact that she was white. As a matter of fact, I can recall seeing her on BET's Video Soul and still thinking of her as black.
Teena's appeal to the black community wasn't inauthentic, it clearly was who she was. She wasn't trying to be anyone but Teena Marie. Nowadays, some artists strive for their "black card" but it's simply for marketing purposes.
I was extremely excited to interview Lady T back in 2006. She was exactly as I thought she would be - down to earth and kind. Also, she asked what songs I liked on her thirteenth solo album Sapphire, which is rare for a celebrity to ask or care what you think of their music. I told her I loved "Romantica" and "You Blow Me Away." She thanked me and her sincerity wasn't something you could pick up in a Q&A interview, but it was there.
I interviewed her again for Congo Square for The Advocate - with some of the interview not making the cut. We talked Christina Aguilera and Janis Joplin, who I always saw a similarity with. On Joplin she told me, "I love Janis. Janis Joplin was an R&B, soul, blues queen. She had an amazing voice and i don't think there has been anyone like her since. She was very much like Etta James to me. Soulful in a really deep soulful way -- much more soul than one body could contain. She was an amazing artist."
Days later, I saw Lady T live in concert in New York City. It was my second time seeing her and she annihilated it - I do remember being upset she didn't sing my favorite "Out On A Limb"!
What's interesting is Teena Marie never abandoned her core audience. She could've easily crossed over to pop, but she stayed right with her R&B roots.
It's always sad to see a legend like her leave us. I'm going to miss Teena Marie. Check out the video I recorded of her singing "Fire & Desire." I love at 4:34 when she sings, "Sometimes I just don't even know my own name!"