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80′s Legend Teena Marie Dead @ 54.

Teena Marie
(By: Chris Graythen Getty Images Entertainment)

Teena Marie’s last album, “Congo Square,” was titled after a historical meeting place for slaves in New Orleans, featured a tribute to Martin Luther King’s widow and also song “Black Cool,” written for President Barack Obama.

No matter that Marie, 54, was white. The R&B legend revered and fully immersed herself in black culture — and in turn was respected and adored by black audiences, not only for her immense soulful talents, but for her inner soul as well.

“Overall my race hasn’t been a problem. I’m a Black artist with White skin. At the end of the day you have to sing what’s in your own soul,” she told Essence.com in an interview last year while promoting “Congo Square.” That album would turn out to be her last.

The self-proclaimed “Ivory Queen of Soul,” whose many classic hits included “Lovergirl,” Square Biz” and the scorching duet “Fire and Desire” with mentor Rick James, was found dead in her Pasadena home on Sunday at the age of 54. Authorities said her death appeared to be of natural causes.

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