Today I planned on posting “SONGS YOU ARE EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT YOU LIKED IN 2010.” But given the recent news of Teena Marie passing, that list can wait. In honor of Teena, here are::

THE BEST BLUE-EYED SOUL SINGERS OF ALL TIME

TEENA MARIE :: “Fire and Desire”, “Square Biz”, “Ooh La La La” … LADY T MADE HITS! With her notorious mentor, the one and only Rick James, and on the solo tip, Teena held her own among powerful R&B singers, songwriters and producers of her time.

And since we’re sharing and reminiscing today, tell me…how many white women can you name that made hits as a Motown artist? Marvin Gaye’s, Smokie Robinson’s, Diana Ross’, Jackson Five’s, Berry Gordy’s Motown? One. Teena Marie. She erased the color line in soul music that Dusty Springfield blurred years before.

Also in the spirit of sharing, let’s be honest, if you have ever attended a black wedding or family reunion, you have slow-danced or 2-stepped down the Soul Train line to a Teena Marie hit. If you love her music like I do, or just discovered her today, you must see this video. This is how I want to remember Teena Marie.

DUSTY SPRINGFIELD :: “Son of a Preacherman” … One word. Church. Or as they say in the Dirty South, CHUUCH! Dusty stormed across the pond and clouded the color lines in soul music with this 1969 hit. She started a tidal wave of British, blue-eyed soul singers that continues until today. Simply put, without Dusty there would be no Duffy, Adele or Amy Winehouse.

Other Dusty Springfield songs that should be in your collection: “You Don’t Own Me”, “Wishin’ and Hopin'”, “The Look of Love”

ADELE :: If we had a dollar for the number of times we heard her breakout hit “Chasing Pavement”, we would never need to work again. But Adele’s new single “Rolling in the Deep” deserves heavy rotation. This gospel explosion of a pop song has me convinced that Adele could sing a solo in the Ebenezer Baptist Church choir any given Sunday.

Other Adele songs that should be in your collection :: “Right As Rain”, “Melt My Heart to Stone”

BOBBY CALDWELL :: “Open Your Eyes” was a hit in 1980 that came back into cultural relevance in 2000 when Common sampled it for his soulful banger “The Light”.

But I have to admit, it wasn’t until early 2009 that I became aware that Bobby Caldwell is white. A blue-eyed soul brother of mine, Brad Pressley in Charlotte, NC, was playing the record one Tuesday night, ironically at a restaurant called Soul. He handed me the Cat in the Hat record cover and what do you know? All these years I heard my dad play “What You Won’t Do For Love”, I had no clue the dude is of the Caucasian persuasion.

Bobby’s music is a bit “before my time”. So I don’t feel that silly for not knowing. Also, Bobby’s record covers pre-Cat in the Hat only show him in silhouette or as a cartoon to hide his ethnicity. His management allegedly hatched this stealth marketing plan to attract crossover fans. Either way, the plan worked. And any artist, especially a blue-eyed soul singer, that Tupac and Biggie sampled has to be on ‘the best of all time’ list.

Other Bobby Caldwell songs that should be in your collection :: “Love Won’t Wait”, “My Flame”, Come To Me”

THE BEE GEES :: You know what… say what you want about The Bee Gees. Laugh all you want at Justin Timberlake’s SNL parody that you forwarded to your mom, your aunt in Florida and all of your co-workers. But Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb made some funk/soul/disco bangers!

This band of brothers also rode the soul wave into the US and delivered an R&B, chart-topping soundtrack for the movie that made John Travolta and men in tight, white suits around the world famous. The Bee Gees have written more songs and received more awards than any other humans ever to walk the planet earth. Think of every Hall of Fame in existence, and the Bee Gees are in it.

Opinion :: Barry Gibb’s falsetto ranks up there with Prince.

Bee Gees songs that should be in your collection :: “Nights on Broadway”, “Too Much Heaven”, “How Deep is Your Love”

HALL & OATES :: Here is another blue-eyed soul group that we love to hate. But if you can sit still and silent while listening to “I Can’t Go For That,” you probably do not have a pulse. Daryl and John made hits! Funky/soulful/R&B that gets in your head and refuses to leave.

Fact :: Hall & Oates have 7 platinum and 6 gold albums.

Opinion :: If you took a poll of songs most often sung at karaoke, Hall & Oates has to rank in the Top 10.

By the way, The Bird and the Bee cover/tribute album for Hall & Oates released earlier this year was well done. Get reacquainted with the blue-eyed duo and make sure these songs are in your collection :: “I Don’t Wanna Lose You”, “She’s Gone”, “Private Eyes”

AMY WINEHOUSE :: You know more about her than you want to at this point. So all I will say is this… if you haven’t noticed, Brits know their soul music.

These Winehouse tracks are a must-have in your collection :: “Valerie”, “Tears Dry on Their Own”, “Back to Black”

BLUE-EYED SOUL HONORABLE MENTION ::

Robyn Thicke, Joss Stone, Remy Shand, Lisa Stansfield

What blue-eyed soul singers do you think are the best of all time?

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