R&B star Teena Marie, known for hits such as "Lovergirl," "I Need Your Lovin'" and "Shadow Boxing," passed away December 26th, 2010 at the age of 54. Now, just over two years later, the singer's final album, Beautiful, is seeing the light of day thanks to the hard work of Marie's 21-year-old daughter, Alia Rose.
According to Rose, the decision to go forward with the record was immediate. "The album was actually finished right before Christmas – she was getting ready to go get a deal, and she didn't make it there. I started moving the day after the funeral," Rose tells Rolling Stone. "I just went into auto-pilot. I started taking meetings, figuring out what would be the best place for her to be."
As one can only imagine, bringing her mother's final project to the world conjured up a wide range of emotions for Rose. For one thing, it was a way for her to gain a feeling of closure. "It's my mom, and all I want is her approval and her validation, and by doing the project that's been helping me in the sense that I'm doing the right thing," she says.
Ultimately, though, the biggest emotion she takes from having delivered the album is pride. "The sense of comfort comes from knowing that I was able to do it, because I was a problem child. I was seriously a free spirit, and my mom knew that about me," says Rose, who is featured on both "Rare Breed" and "Give Me Your Love." "For me, this is like the first time I've ever been able to complete something and be proud of it. I've done a lot of things, but as far as really being proud of something I've done, this is the first thing."
Beautiful is a fitting elegy for the woman dubbed Lady Tee by frequent collaborator Rick James. From the opening dance jam "Luv Letter" to the ballads "Love Starved" and "Carte Blanche," and the Latin-flavored Spanish vocals of "Maria Bonita," Beautiful is a vehicle for the many sides of Marie.
"The songs that she chose to put on this album are really crazy," says Rose, citing the album's closer, the hymn-like "The Perfect Feeling" (a song Rose said her mom recorded years ago and never released) and "Wild Horses," which originally appeared on Marie's 1994 album, Passion Play.
The album's gorgeous title track, a powerful, heartfelt ballad that showcases Marie's vocals at her most forceful, is dedicated to Rose. When she listens to the opening of "The Long Play," on which Marie plays a DJ broadcasting from "WHEVN, a heavenly station," Rose says she can feel her mother talking to her.
"It's like you're going on a journey with her to where she was going. When you take time and really listen to the lyrics, it's like she's singing about what's about to happen and what she's about to do," she says. "I do believe she in a sense knew what was going to happen, and that she was almost documenting it for us."
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- Teena Marie