Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Queen Latifah, Shanice Wilson and Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. were among the luminaries who honored singer Teena Marie at a private memorial service Monday. The two-hour memorial service and Catholic mass was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Teena, born Mary Christine Brockert, died Dec. 26 at age 54. Reports have said she died of natural causes.
Near the start of the service, an emotional Shanice Wilson shared a special moment when Teena became her unofficial “auntie.” After the story she delivered a beautiful performance of “Ave Maria.”
Later, a medley of Teena’s hits were performed, as baby pictures and photos with friends and family, including Rick James, were displayed on a large screen. The performance was a musical reminder to celebrate Teena Marie’s life and talents, not just mourn the loss of it. When songs “Square Biz” and “I Need Your Lovin” were sung many attendees bobbed their heads to the beat, while soulful ballads “Dear Lover” and “Portuguese Love” moved some to sway to the music.
During remarks close friend and ex-label mate, Smokey Robinson, shared how he informed Motown founder, Berry Gordy, of Teena Marie’s passing. But it was Gordy that led Smokey to call her house and hear Teena’s tribute to him on her voice mail. Smokey wrote and performed an original ballad in her honor. “Go on, glow on…shine. You’ll always be love girl; you’ll always rock my world,” he sang.
Berry Gordy followed Smokey with comments about how much he loved Teena Marie’s attitude. “She was bad,” he said, then he quoted the rap from “Square Biz.” The audience agreed with applause. “I’ll miss her forever and forever,” he said in closing.
Her brave daughter Alia Rose, closed out the remarks. With tears she expressed her closeness and love for her mother. Having celebrated her 19th birthday the day before her mother’s death, Alia said “my mom was having problems with me growing up…she died so she won’t have to…when she died, I grew up.” A releasing of doves marked the end of the memorial service.
HipHollywood spoke to many of “Lady Tee’s” friends at the service, as they recalled fond memories of the singer and how she impacted the world. Watch the video below: