As the outpouring of words continues for late soul singer Teena Marie, The Rhythm & Blues Foundation looks back on one of her great achievements. Marie was the recipient of the R&B Foundation's 2008 Pioneer Award, which recognized her as "a true pioneer of R&B music and a musical bridge builder."

"She brought people from all walks of life together under the banner of soulful, heartfelt music," said R&B Foundation Chairman Damon Williams. The voice behind songs like 'Square Biz' and 'Lover Girl,' Marie was called the "female Rick James" by former Motown Records Vice President Iris Gordy, and later duet with James on the song 'Fire and Desire.'

"Teena was a thoughtful, insightful and incredibly sensitive artist who approached life like a knowing soul who had truly 'been here before." Gordy said. "Always a fearless songwriter and producer, Teena possessed a uniquely recognizable vocal style. Her artistic light will remain incredibly bright. She was much loved and will be missed beyond measure."

Called the 'Ivory Queen of Soul,' Marie died in her sleep on Dec. 26 at her Pasadena, Calif. home. She was 54. Since her untimely death, the R&B community has commented on her contribution to music. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Teena." Lenny Kravitz said of his one-time mentor in a recent video. Swizz Beatz called her one of the "best voices of music."

When accepting the Pioneer Award, Marie reflected on her accomplishments. "I asked my heavenly father to take my poetry and let me set it to music, and he did," she said.

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