New Orleans is rich with African American history and culture. Congo Square was the area in the city where the slaves were allowed, on Sundays, to dance and sing, shout and drum to their heart’s content. The square became the meeting ground for musicians and developed into the Louisiana hot spot for the music that was the creation of African Americans: jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, roots and soul.
Teen Marie’s debut album on the Stax label is her 13th to date. The album pays tribute to the history of the area of New Orleans from whence it derives its title, “Congo Square.”
Ms. Marie is the recipient of the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame Award and a veteran of Motown where she made her debut in 1979; 30 years ago.
Marie (a white woman with Louisiana and Texan roots) has had a long and enduring love affair with the Black community. Embraced by her largely Black audience, her first album went without her picture as the powers that were at Motown feared her potential audience would reject her on sight. Today this is no longer a problem as her fans know her not only as Lady T but as the Ivory Queen of Soul.
Recently discovering her family’s roots in Louisiana delighted Marie as she stated, “From the first moment that I visited New Orleans many years ago, I felt a deep spiritual connection. It was so familiar to me that I knew I had been there before.” Whether in a past life or not, her blood memory returns her to the city where, as she has said, she loves even, “the air.”
Waxing philosophical on her album notes Marie states, “There are no coincidences. Life is Destiny and what you do with it while you are here is up to you.”
And so for 30 years Teena Marie has sung her heart out in blistering renditions of her own songs. She has a passion for the French Quarter and its Congo Square. She wants her audience to know her passion, to feel it and to believe it. For this reason she has given us, “Congo Square,” released June 9th.