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Singer Teena Marie Pays Tribute to New Orleans Jazz


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A recent fan post on YouTube about Teena Marie says it all: “She still sings like she did 30 years ago."

Showing no sign of slowing down, the R&B funkstress displays her inimitable chops on her current single, “Can't Last a Day." Stationed at No. 55 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and No. 16 on Adult R&B, the song is the lead track from the June 9 release Congo Square, Marie's Stax Records/Concord Music Group debut and 13th studio album.

Extolling what Marie describes as that “mystical, joined-through-God kind of love," the midtempo “Can't Last" features a duet with another noteworthy singer, Faith Evans.

“Of the younger ladies, she's the one I love most," Marie says. “I've always loved her vocal style. She reminds me of a younger me."

On Congo Square, Marie pays tribute to artists who inspired her, ranging from Sarah Vaughan and Curtis Mayfield to Marvin Gaye and Billie Holiday. The album borrows its title from a section in New Orleans' French Quarter where slaves were allowed to wear their fancy clothes to dance and sing on Sundays.

“I thought about all the amazing music and musicians who came out of New Orleans, from father of jazz Louis Armstrong to unknowns on the corner playing their guitars," Marie says. “That powerful and spiritual music is not just about older musicians but also about younger artists who are helping to keep jazz alive."

Each of the 16 songs that Marie wrote for Congo Square, most of which she produced, features something musically reminiscent of several of her favorite artists. “Ear Candy 101" calls to mind Mayfield's vocal styling, while its bridge possesses a Gaye vibe. “Marry Me" evokes Aretha Franklin's early blues flavor; “Rose n' Thorn" pays homage to Marie's favorite jazz singer, Vaughan.

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