Often Imitated, Never Duplicated

The only white artist who has been thoroughly embraced by the black audience, long before Christina Aguilera and the slew of girls to follow, Teena Marie has dominated blue-eyed soul.

BY Clay Cane

May 20 2009 11:00 PM ET

TEENA MARIE 02 X390 (PUBLICITY) | ADVOCATE.COM

You are known to be one of the few white artists to be
embraced by black audiences. Were you embraced immediately, or
did it take some time for black audiences to warm up to
you?

It was immediately ... it was actually even before the records
came out. I lived in a neighborhood that was very mixed. Even
before I had records out I had a following -- all the black
girls at school used to have me sing all the different songs of
the day. I never really felt those racial pangs. I mean,
I've had isolated incidents, but it's always been
beautiful.

You are also loved by the gay and lesbian community. When
did you first realize you had a gay following?

I'm just happy that I have any following! [
Laughs

] I don't think I necessarily think about which following
or that following. It's really obvious to me when people
come up to me that they just love the music. Gay people love to
dance, sing -- they're just like everybody else as far as
emotions.

You've been an artist who has been able to transcend
race in R&B. Do you think there will ever be a time in
R&B where an artist could transcend being gay or
bisexual?

I hope so. I really don't know because I think that's a
personal question to each individual person that loves or
dislikes people. It's really hard to answer that. I can
only answer it for myself, and I just love people. I love
people that love me.

Back in your era there was a lot of room for R&B artists
to be more androgynous, like Prince and Rick James. Now that
seems to have died, and most of the R&B artists are overly
masculine. Why do you think that androgyny period is gone in
R&B?

Back in the day, people were more focused on entertainment. You
don't see as many great entertainers now as you did back
then. Everybody wanted to be an individual and do their own
exciting thing. You just don't see that as much
anymore.

What are your thoughts on gay marriage?

I think that everyone should have the right to make their own
choices about what they want to do. I think they should have
complete rights like anyone else.

Tags: Music

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